18 May

Trump to host Nigerian president at White House

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari is to become the first African leader to visit Donald Trump – just three months after the US president is reported as dismissing African nations as “shithole countries”.

Mr Buhari will arrive in Washington on Monday to discuss economic, security and military ties. But observers wonder if Mr Trump’s past remarks may cause some friction.

In January, he was reported to have asked a private meeting of American lawmakers: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

The comment – which Mr Trump denied – was referring to African countries in particular, according to Senator Dick Durbin who was present at the meeting. Speaking at the time, Mr Durbin said the language had been “hate-filled, vile and racist”. Mr Trump responded by telling reporters: “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

The meeting comes weeks after Rex Tillerson, then US secretary of state, visited Nigeria and other African countries. That trip was widely seen as an attempt to smooth relations after Mr Trump’s alleged comments caused outrage across the continent.

“President Trump looks forward to discussing ways to enhance our strategic partnership and advance our shared priorities,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

She added that priorities would include “promoting economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security, and building on Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region”.

Mr Buhari, a 75-year-old former military leader, is expected to stress his commitment to democracy despite reports of rampant corruption and poor governance, according to Reuters.

He will stress the importance of the West African country’s role in ensuring stability across the continent despite itself facing insurgency threats by terror group Boko Haram in the north east.

After the talks, he will meet businesses specialising in agriculture. Senior Nigerian government officials will also discuss a number of projects with executives from major US transport companies.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/trump-nigeria-president-white-house-africa-muhammadu-buhari-oil-a8329186.html

17 May

Zim electoral body tells opposition parties to ‘back off’

Zimbabwe’s electoral body has reportedly said that it would not be pressured into disclosing who the suppliers of ballot papers for this year’s crunch elections are.

According to NewsDay, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said that there was no law compelling it to involve political parties in its procurement deals.

ZEC said that it would make such information available at an appropriate time and would comply with current legislation’s.

“… there is no legal provision which requires Zec to involve political parties in its procurement processes for the ballot paper and the printer. Section 52A of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] only requires the commission to disclose the following information to all political parties and candidates contesting an election, and to all observers — (a) where and by whom the ballot papers for the election have been or are being printed; and (b), the total number of ballot papers that have been printed for the election; and (c), the number of ballot papers that have been distributed to each polling station,” the electoral body was quoted as saying.

ZEC indicated recently that it won’t go to tender over ballot printers. It said that it had already selected the company that would print ballot papers for the forthcoming polls and won’t put the job out to public tender because there was not enough time, the state Sunday Mail reported.

“Government has selected a company to print ballot papers and supply indelible ink for the forthcoming harmonised elections…. due to security and time considerations,” the report said.

“The tender would normally have been announced in the Government Gazette [but]…it was felt there was not enough time to follow this process,” the paper continued.

To read the full article, click here.


16 May

Miguna set for showdown with gov’t as he returns to Kenya today

Kenyans are bracing for another standoff between opposition politician Miguna and the immigration department.

Miguna announced that he will be coming back to the country today and the Kenya Human Rights Commission wrote to the immigration department asking that the government buys the politician a ticket, issue him with a valid Kenyan passport and permit human rights staff to witness Miguna’s entry as ordered by the courts of law.

The immigration principal secretary, Gordon Kihalang’wa, however responded saying the department would not do any of the things requested by the human rights body.

“The department cannot issue Mr Miguna with a valid Kenyan passport as he has not made any application for the same. Moreover, and without prejudice, we reiterate that Mr Miguna has to regain his Kenyan citizenship before being issued with a Kenyan passport,” Maj-Gen Kihalang’wa says in the letter dated May 10.

Kenya’s foreign affairs minister, Dr. Monica has also weighed in on the matter, tweeting that Miguna would not be denied entry as long as he followed due process required by Kenyan and international laws.

‘‘I want to state categorically that the Govt will not deny @MigunaMiguna entry to Kenya but he has to follow the due process that are required by the laws of Kenya and international laws.’‘ She added that Miguna must follow the right procedures to get his citizenship after denouncing it.

Miguna is expected in court on Friday May 18th to give oral evidence against a petition accusing the Kenyan government for stripping off his citizenship.

While the Kenya High Court directed that the deported lawyer is allowed back into the country to face his accuser in person, several such orders have previously been ignored by the authorities in the case of Miguna Miguna.

Miguna’s case also threatens to undermine the unity pact reached by president Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga which was to champion reconciliation and restore the rule of law.

Odinga previously explained that Uhuru ha agreed to drop all cases against opposition politicians in connection with his symbolic inauguration as the ‘people’s president’.

Odinga is presently in the United Kingdom where he is scheduled to address Kenyans on Friday. He will thus potentially avoid a public embarrassment should Miguna be denied entry into the country, despite the newfound collaboration with the government.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/05/16/miguna-miguna-set-for-showdown-with-gov-t-as-he-returns-to-kenya-today/

15 May

S. Sudan conflict mediator asks IGAD to take action…

South Sudan should not waste the opportunity of forthcoming peace talks even though an agreement to end its conflict has been violated several times by warring parties, an international mediator said on Monday.

Despite several agreements and ceasefires, fighting has rumbled on in South Sudan with barely any break since civil war erupted at the end of 2013, just two years after independence.

Troops loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with forces loyal to Riek Machar, then the vice president. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and much of the nation face dire food shortages.

The government and rebel groups signed the latest ceasefire in December in the Ethiopian capital, aiming to revive a pact reached in 2015. But the truce was violated within hours.

The parties will hold a forum in Addis Ababa from May 17-21 to try to jumpstart the peace process. The forum is organised by the regional East Africa group IGAD.

“This country has missed so many opportunities to make durable peace and we should not allow the High level Revitalisation Forum to be squandered,” Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana said in a speech.

Mogae chairs the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, which was set up to monitor the failed 2015 truce and peace deal implementation. South Sudan has since launched its own national dialogue, while fighting has continued across the country.

He accused the parties of engaging in human rights violations and urged IGAD to take action.

“The parties continue to wage a campaign of defiance and commit human rights abuses with impunity. This is unacceptable and I call on IGAD to make good its promise to hold spoilers accountable,” he said.

Frustrated allies including the United States, European Union and Germany have warned of dire consequences should the peace talks fail.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/05/14/s-sudan-conflict-mediator-asks-igad-to-take-action-agains-saboteurs-of-peace/

15 May

AMISOM leaders endorse Somalia’s security responsibilities

Somalia has made an appeal to the African Union (AU) and United Nations, urging the international bodies to believe in the country’s ability to take over security responsibilities.

The United Nations directed the African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM)to embark on a gradual withdrawal from Somalia, a decision that was approved by the AU’s peace and security council.

However, relentless attacks by the terror group Al Shabaab, coupled with corruption and infighting within military ranks has cast some doubts on whether the Somali National Army is ready to take over the role of securing the Horn of Africa nation.

The Ugandan commander of AMISOM recently warned against the negative consequences that a premature exit by the peacekeeping force might have on the stability of Somalia.

Speaking at a high-level meeting attended by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and the United Nations, National Security Advisor Abdi Said Muse Ali asked that his country is not judged by its past, but rather decisions should be made based on current assessments and progress reports.

Ali added that the Federal Government of Somalia has the political will to take over the country’s security.

“The transition plan is a huge opportunity for the planning and security of Somalia. Somalia is grateful to our international partners for the strong support provided over the past years. But now, the situation is different,” Ali said.

Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, reiterated the mission’s commitment to Somalia’s desire to meet its own security needs.

“We need to build a country, and to build a country it means that Somalis need to take responsibility not just in military responsibilities but also the administration of the country.”

He added that the peacekeepers have been working on the withdrawal plan in many areas including rebuilding institutions and they are now ready to hand over to the Somali government.

The United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and the United Nations is in Mogadishu to hold meetings with various parties, and then report to the UN Security Council before a meeting to determine the mandate of AMISOM.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/05/15/amisom-leaders-endorse-somalia-s-readiness-to-take-over-security/

14 May

Comoros govt refuses to bow to France in visa row over Mayotte

The Indian Ocean state of Comoros hit back against France last Wednesday for suspending visas for its citizens, a further escalation in a diplomatic row linked to immigration and territorial disputes.

Comoros considers Mayotte, 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Mozambique and 300 km west of Madagascar, part of its archipelago.

But Mayotte is a former French colony that voted against independence in referenda in 1974 and 1976. It stayed French, with a status allowing legal differences from the mainland. In March 2009, Mayotte’s people voted overwhelmingly to become a full-fledged part of France.

The ties with mainland France have kept Mayotte richer and more stable than coup-prone Comoros, and many Comorians try to immigrate to Mayotte, which has begun deporting some of them.

The French embassy in Moroni, the capital of Comoros, decided on May 4 to suspend issuing visas to all Comorian nationals. It had earlier suspended visas for officials and services, after the Comorian government refused to receive, in its three islands, Comorians deported from Mayotte.

The decision on visas “gives a clear answer to people who have been fooling themselves by saying that France was a friendly country. It has no friends. It defends its interests,”

Souef Mohamed El-Amine told the local newspaper Alwatwan.

“We refuse to kneel in front of France and we will continue because even if France has power, we have the right on our side,” Amine said.

A protest is planned for Thursday in Mayotte over planned deportations of Comorians. Earlier this year, residents of Mayotte also protested about increased insecurity on the island, blaming it on people coming from non-French Comorian islands.

A decision taken by the Comorian government not to receive any boat or aircraft from Mayotte with deported Comorian citizens remains in force, Amine said.

“Comorian sovereignty on this Island, still under French domination, is not negotiable,” he said.

Source: http://www.africanews.com/2018/05/13/comoros-govt-refuses-to-bow-to-france-in-visa-row-over-mayotte/

14 May

Journalists, bloggers weigh in on media freedom in Ethiopia

The new Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is said to have increased transparency in governance since his assumption into office. His critics cite his outreach to opposition political parties, journalists and human rights activists as a good move.

Thousands of prisoners have been released since January. Prominent Ethiopian journalist and human rights activist, Eskinder Nega has not seen his wife and son, both settled in the United States, for 5 years. In total, he’s spent nearly 9 years behind bars.

“They wanted to break my spirit, they want to break the spirit of political prisoners. They want you to say, I finally give up, it’s too much for me, I’ve suffered enough. In this story, I’m happy to say that they didn’t break my spirit and that’s why I’m talking to you”, Nega said.

Eskinder is one of the founders of one of the first opposition newspapers. In 2011, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison on anti-terrorist law charges.

‘‘This is my work published on the internet after I was forbidden to publish on paper. We were forbidden to publish in newspapers after our release from prison in 2008”, he added.

His colleagues agree. Manaye studied journalism at the Addis Ababa University and worked in the state press for a year. He tells our correspondent, Nathalie Tissot that news covered are sometimes ‘buried’.

“I have found it difficult to work as a free journalist in a government media. I was sent to cover public meetings and press conferences of opposition parties. I covered them when I came back to the office and returned my article, I didn’t find it in the next day’s edition’‘, Belay Manaye said.

Today, he follows the trials of activists in the Federal High Court of Justice. Like Eskinder, this human rights activist welcomes the new Prime Minister.

To read the full article, click here.

14 May

Gambia capital Banjul elects first female mayor: Rohey Malick Lowe

Gambia’s capital Banjul made history on Saturday with the election of its first female mayor. Mayoress-elect Rohey Malick Lowe is the first woman elected to steer affairs of one of West Africa’s smallest capitals.

Her election was confirmed by the Independent Electoral Commission at the end of the May 12 Mayoral elections that took place in Banjul and Kanifing areas.

She run on the ticket of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) which elected her as candidate months back. Incidentally the Lowe name is not new to the post, her late father, Malik Lowe was a one-time Mayor of the city.

The polls were the first mayoral election after ouster of Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh’s party also lost the presidential hold on Banjul in the December 2016 elections that ended his over two decades rule of The Gambia.

That makes two mayoresses for West Africa. Across the border in Sierra Leone, a woman was also elected mayor, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, became mayor for the first time in over three decades. The Chartered Accountant became the first female mayor since 1977 – 1980 when the position was held by one Dr June Holst-Roness.

The new Banjul “overlord” in outlining her aspirations for Banjul in a Go Fund Me page in February 2018, she said: “After 22 year’s Executive neglect, the Gambia and her capital Banjul in particular need a serious face-lift. Banjul as a City is in a bad shape, and it would require pragmatic, visionary leadership with a progressive team and established structures to make that happen.

“Rohey Malick Lowe acknowledges and assumes this task as a citizen responsibility, and is ready to get in the trenches with YOU and with YOUR help, give us ‘the City We Deserve!’ Of the many issues that the City faces, a Rohey Lowe Council’s immediate priority areas will include, but not limited to: SANITATION, MUNICIPAL ECONOMY, PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE.

11 May

Stranded South Sudan govt begs U.S. against assistance review

South Sudan’s government urged the United States on Wednesday not to “abandon” the country after Washington said it would review its assistance programs because it could not continue a partnership with leaders perpetuating “endless war”.

“We are asking the United States not to abandon this country (South Sudan) because we need them … their role to assist the population of South Sudan is crucial and cannot be ignored”, said foreign affairs ministry spokesman Mawien Makol Ariik.

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, which has been in the throes of a civil war since late 2013 that has displaced around a third of the 12 million-strong population and killed tens of thousands of people.

In a sharply worded statement on Tuesday the White House said the United States was a “proud and hopeful supporter” of South Sudan when it gained independence in 2011.

“Seven years later, the leaders of this country have squandered this partnership … killed their own people, and repeatedly demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to live up to their commitments to end the country’s civil war.”

The U.S. funding provides aid to millions of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda and lifesaving assistance such as food to people still inside the war-torn country.

Washington’s statement says the United States is committed to saving lives but does not want its assistance to “prolong the conflict” or facilitate corrupt behaviour by elites.

Production in some of South Sudan’s oil fields has been shut down due to the conflict, but the government says around 130,000 barrels per day of oil are being produced. Juba spends well more than half ifs budget on weapons and paying soldiers, according to U.N. experts.

To read the full article, click here. 


10 May

Glencore Says Legal Proceedings Opened Against Congo Unit

Glencore Plc subsidiary said the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned mining company began legal proceedings to dissolve a unit forecast to become the world’s largest cobalt mine, because of a capital shortfall.

Toronto-listed Katanga Mining Co. said it has several options to remedy the deficit at Kamoto Copper Co., which operates a copper and cobalt mine in southeastern Congo, according to a statement issued on Sunday.

Possible courses of action include the conversion into equity of a portion of existing debt owed by KCC to Katanga or forgiving some debt, it said.

“Any such outcome would impact the distribution of future cash flows earned by KCC,” Katanga said. KCC is a joint venture between Katanga, which owns 75 percent of the company, and Gecamines, Congo’s state miner. Glencore, based in Baar, Switzerland, owns more than 86 percent of Katanga.

High levels of debt at mining companies are becoming an increasingly heated issue in Congo, the world’s largest source of cobalt and Africa’s biggest copper producer. Gecamines has said it plans to renegotiate partnerships with international companies to give it a greater stake in mining revenue and profit.

KCC resumed production in December after a two-year hiatus during which it invested in new processing facilities.

Glencore said the company will produce as much as 300,000 metric tons of copper and 34,000 tons of cobalt in 2019, which would make it Congo’s biggest copper mine and the world’s largest producer of cobalt.

The price of cobalt, a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries needed to power electric vehicles, has more than quadrupled in the past two years.

Katanga last year flagged a $3.9 billion capital deficiency and gross debt of $8.9 billion. The company warned last month that the unit could face legal action because of the shortfall.

A court hearing is scheduled in a Congolese court for May 8 and “may grant KCC a maximum period of six months to regularize the situation,” Katanga said Sunday.

To read the full article, click here.