Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

LDESP AFRICOM News Update – July 2012

Note: This update is a summary of various news articles from open sources relating to African countries threatened by political instability or civil unrest, impending humanitarian crisis, emerging security threats and terrorist activities, energy security activities and economic and/or security cooperation efforts. Please click on the links below to access the complete article from the internet. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries given below highlight only the portion of each article that is relevant and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Please note that the update includes articles, which use the British English spelling. Articles are taken from diverse regional, American and European media sources, reflecting a range of political views/biases, and are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. Opinions expressed in the articles/commentaries do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP Staff.

Al-Qaeda-Linked Islamist Groups Operating in Africa

Several radical islamist groups have sprung up in Africa in recent years, openly declaring their alliance with Al-Qaeda and carrying out attacks, kidnappings and other criminal activities. AL-SHABAAB (…) In February, the Shabaab were estimated to number overall between 5,000 and 8,000 men; of them around 2,000 were thought to be regular, well-trained full-time fighters. (…) But the Shabaab themselves have offered little public support for other African Islamists, speaking instead of ties to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. AL-QAEDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB (AQIM) (…) In 2010 Anthony Holmes deputy commander for the United States Africa Command (Africom), told AFP there were no more than 300 members of AQIM, but they had known ties to Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan and were considered a serious threat. ANSAR DINE (DEFENDERS OF FAITH) This previously unknown group emerged on the flanks of Tuareg rebels who spearheaded the takeover of northern Mali in March. (…) MOVEMENT FOR ONENESS AND JIHAD IN WEST AFRICA (MUJAO) MUJAO emerged as a dissident group of AQIM seeking to spread jihad in west Africa, but as one US-based analyst on north African militancy told AFP “their public actions are at odds with their words.” Most of their actions have so far been aimed at Algeria. (…) At the end of June, in bloody clashes that left some 35 dead, the group pushed out the Tuareg rebels who helped them seize Gao. BOKO HARAM (…) The US State Department said the group has killed more than 1,000 people since the begining of 2011. Some analysts say there are ties between Boko Haram and AQIM or Shebab in Somalia, but these links remain a subject of extensive debate. (Capital FM, Agence France Presse)

U.S. Drug War Expands to Africa, a Newer Hub for Cartels

In a significant expansion of the war on drugs, the United States has begun training an elite unit of counternarcotics police in Ghana and planning similar units in Nigeria and Kenya as part of an effort to combat the Latin American cartels that are increasingly using Africa to smuggle cocaine into Europe. (…) The aggressive response by the United States is also a sign of how greater attention and resources have turned to efforts to fight drugs as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down. “We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues,” said Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section. “It’s a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.” (…) To date, officials say, the D.E.A. commando team has not been deployed to work with the newly created elite police squads in Africa, where the effort to counter the drug traffickers is said to be about three years behind the one in Central America. (The New York Times)


Africom’s Makeup Promotes ‘Whole-of-Government’ Approaches

As the Defense Department was embracing a counterinsurgency strategy that recognized the need for “whole-of-government” solutions in Iraq and then Afghanistan, U.S. Africa Command was busy putting the model into practice on the African continent. AFRICOM stood up five years ago as a new model of interagency cooperation: a U.S. combatant command representing a cross-section of military, diplomatic and other U.S. government capability able to bring all elements of national power to regional challenges. (…) The goal at AFRICOM is to work in tandem with other U.S. government agencies and international partners to help African nations deal with African challenges, Army General Carter F. Ham, the AFRICOM commander, told American Forces Press Service. (…) “It represents a recognition of the reality that what we do to protect U.S. security interests in Africa is part of a much broader ‘whole-of-government approach’ to representing all our interests on the continent,” he said. It also acknowledges, he added, that traditional U.S. military solutions aren’t always the best answer to Africa’s security challenges. “Security challenges in Africa are inextricably bound up with the development challenges in Africa,” Holmes said. “They are inherently related to the challenges of development or underdevelopment and economic, political and social development.” (AllAfrica)

Africom Builds Logistics Capability in African Partners

Several robust programs at U.S. Africa Command are helping to ensure that when African partners pull together to support shared security interests, they have the logistical capabilities they need to deploy and sustain their operations. Building the capacity of individual African states and regional organizations has been a cornerstone principle at Africom since its inception. (…) Ham said he’s been encouraged to see Africans increasingly rising to the challenge, particularly in support of counterterrorism and peacekeeping operations. But Melissa Jordan, program manager for the command’s theater logistics engagement program, recognizes that willing forces aren’t sufficient if they don’t have the logistical underpinning to back them up. (…) The training focuses on three primary logistics skill sets: how to deploy, how to sustain — which in military terms is called “employment” — and how to optimize major resources, she explained. (American Forces Press Service)


African Union Elects New Leader

South Africa’s home affairs minister was elected 15 July to lead the African Union, capping a months-long campaign that aimed to expand the government’s diplomatic role on the continent but risked sowing divisions among other African countries. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, an experienced diplomat and President Jacob Zuma’s former wife, was chosen 15 July by the pan-African bloc’s 54 member countries to serve a four-year term as chairwoman of the African Union’s commission, its executive arm. (…)South African officials lobbied aggressively for Ms. Dlamini-Zuma despite an informal arrangement that the chairmanship be held by one of Africa’s smaller nations. Their hope is that her victory will lend more diplomatic heft to the African Union, which has appeared divided and weak in recent crises in the Ivory Coast and Libya. (Wall Street Journal)

AU Seeks Better Peace-Keeping Strategies

The African Union, AU, is looking out for new ways on how to entrench peace in a generally, conflicts-stricken African continent. In an exercise dubbed, “Africa Endeavor”, the AU, working hand-in-glove with the US Africa Command, the EU, ECOWAS, ECCAS, NATO, Canada, Holland, the US, France and thirty-three African countries, have been working out tactics on how to ease interoperability in situations of conflicts. According to Major Karim Ouily from Burkina-Faso, military officials in the African continent and their technical partners are interested in learning how to synchronise, catch-up and acquire new technological skills in the military sector. (…) Col. Stephen Koku Assam from Ghana corroborated his colleague from Burkina-Faso; “The African continent is dotted with trouble spots here and there, leading to rebellions and war-like situations. Our people must live a peaceful life, so, the AU is convinced that it must have its own standby force to be able to contain aggression and not be held hostage by rebel groups. That is why the AU is motivated to craft its own peace support operations,” he said. (Africa News)

AU Forces Push al-Shabab Further from Mogadishu

African Union forces in Somalia have pushed al-Shabab militants to the outskirts of Mogadishu, retaking several key areas since late June. African Union forces patrol the streets of Balad, Somalia after seizing the town this past June. This farming community, some 30 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu, had been under al-Shabab control for nearly five years. But now, residents say life has returned to normal. (…) As AMISOM sweeps through small towns in pursuit of the militants, it is up to local administrators to maintain the peace. People here have been without government services for years, and there is hope that a political transition in August will bring more development. But local farmer Ali Sheikh Ahmed says people want only to return to their normal lives. “I would like these farmers to be helped,” he said. “The farmland here is productive. Any aid might not help them much. It is good if they produce their own food, and trust that their land will provide.” AMISOM, meanwhile, has no plans to leave. It has set up a base here, where it plans to continue operations against al-Shabab wherever it goes next. (Voice of America)

AU Ready to Send Peacekeepers to DR Congo

The African Union said 15 July it is ready to send peacekeeping troops to the restive eastern DR Congo, as leaders met at a biannual summit to discuss trouble spots and to vote for the bloc’s top job. AU Commission chairman Jean Ping told African leaders at the opening of the two-day summit that the AU was “prepared to contribute to the establishment of a regional force to put an end to the activities of armed groups,” in DR Congo. No further details about the potential force were given at the meeting, attended by both DR Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who rejects accusations by UN experts and Kinshasa he supports the mutiny by Congolese troops. “The violence must end immediately, countries of the region ought to respect principle of non-interference,” said UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson. The renewed violence in the mineral-rich eastern DR Congo is a key focus of the summit as well as conflict elsewhere on the continent, including instability in Mali, and the ongoing crisis between Sudan and South Sudan. (Agence France Presse)

African Union Seeks Strong Intra-Africa Trade

The deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission says the continental body seeks to encourage intra-Africa trade among its members to enhance Africa’s worldwide competitiveness. Erastus Mwencha said strong trade between AU members is vital to creating jobs and eradicating poverty. (…) “Trade is a tool that we can use to tackle poverty and unemployment, because if we are going to involve value addition, it means more jobs it means more employment [and] it means tackling poverty,” he said. “Trade is also an entry of technology because it will mean we have more investment and investments coming to Africa, means technology.” (…) The biannual summit officially ends 16 July. (Voice of America)

Africa Seeks N5.12 Billion to Prevent Three Million Malaria Deaths

ADDITIONAL US$3.2 million, about N5.12 billion, is required in funding over the next three years towards further scaling up malaria control efforts to prevent 640 million cases and avert three million malaria-related deaths in Nigeria and the rest of Africa by the end of 2015. Disclosing this in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the just concluded African Union Summit, Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the need to scale up and achieve universal access to malaria prevention and treatment was inevitable. (…) Earlier, an independent study found that every dollar invested in malaria control in Africa generates on average $40 in GDP on the continent. The study was commissioned by ALMA in collaboration with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. (allAfrica)


EU Backs Efforts to Resolve Mali Crisis

The European Union said 23 July it backed efforts, including possible military action, by an African bloc to find a solution to the crisis in Mali. Members of the Economic Community of West African States had pressed the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution authorizing the deployment of regional forces to Mali under a Chapter VII resolution. Rebels, some of whom are tied to al-Qaida, declared autonomy for the northern part of the country shortly after a military coup early this year. Al-Qaida militants have since destroyed historic sites in Timbuktu that are viewed in conflict with their conservative brand of Islam. ECOWAS, in a recent statement, called on political and civil leaders in Mali to make proposals to interim President Dioncounda Traore for the formation of a unity government. In a statement 23 July, the European Union declared support for the efforts by ECOWAS to find a way to settle the crisis in Mali, including the “possible deployment of a stabilization force” by the African bloc. (United Press International)

EU to Send Experts to Niger to Counter al Qaeda Threat

The European Union is to send experts to Niger to train its security forces to fight al Qaeda, signalling the depth of EU concern over the growing threat Islamist militancy poses to Africa’s Sahel region. The mission, approved by EU governments on 16 July, will start work in August in the Niger capital Niamey. The rebel takeover in the north of Mali, which borders Niger, as well as an influx of weapons and fighters after last year’s revolt in Libya, have raised fears about the stability of the arid Sahel belt of central and west Africa. (…) About 50 international staff and 30 staff hired locally will be based in the mission’s headquarters in Niamey, with liaison officers in Bamako, the capital of neighbouring Mali, and Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania. (…)The European Union also approved a 23 million euro ($28 million) mission to help states in the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean police their territorial waters to fight piracy off Somalia. The plan involves Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles and will be extended to Tanzania later. (Reuters)

EU to Suspend Zimbabwe Sanctions ‘After Referendum’

The European Union is to suspend most sanctions against Zimbabwe once it has held a credible referendum on a new constitution, EU foreign ministers say. This would make an “important milestone” towards holding democratic elections, their statement said. More than a 100 key individuals have been covered under an EU travel ban and assets freeze imposed in 2002. But sanctions would remain against President Robert Mugabe, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said. The sanctions were originally imposed a decade ago in response to human rights abuses and political violence. Mr Hague said the decision was an “important step-change in the EU’s approach to Zimbabwe”. “This approach will demonstrate to reformers across the political spectrum that the EU is serious about responding to concrete progress on the ground,” he said. “It also puts the onus on the government of Zimbabwe to live up to their commitments. These decisions will be kept under constant review and if the situation deteriorates, we will of course not hesitate to respond appropriately.” (BBC News)


UN Troops Shell Rebel Positions in DR Congo

UN and Democratic Republic of Congo government troops have bombarded rebel positions in the country’s strife-torn eastern region of North-Kivu. Three helicopters belonging to the United Nations DR Congo mission – MONUSCO – and two gunships of the DR Congo army (FARDC) were seen and explosions were heard around the villages of Nkokwe and Bukima, where rebels from the M23 group are thought to have some positions. Officials from the UN and the army confirmed attacks were underway, as did the mutineers. (…) The deployment came on 12 July as Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, urged the presidents of DR Congo and its rival Rwanda to “defuse tensions” over the rebellion. The rebels, who have seized a number of towns along the Ugandan border, denied plans to advance on Goma, the AFP news agency reported. (…) The DRC, Rwanda and neighbouring states called on 12 July for the creation of an international military force to eliminate armed rebels in the DRC’s turbulent east. (Al Jazeera)

UN Announces Reinforcement of AU Task Force in South Sudan

The United Nations Special Representative and head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan Hilde Johnson announced in Yambio that Rwandese troops will join the African Union task force to hunt down the top commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). During her first visit to Yambio, Johnson met with state officials to discuss security and agricultural potentials in the region. She said that her office is working to help protect Western Equatoria state from future LRA violence. “We have seen attacks lately but we have deployed our Rwandese troops,” she said. “[We] will help in boosting agriculture of the state, Rwandese troops [will be] in three locations of Tambura, Ezo and Yambio.”
“They will be in long and short distance range patrols [and] they will work closely with the communities and try to protect as best they can. We will [also] work closely with the African Union Regional task Force and American advisors,” she added. (Voice of America)

Mandate of UN Monitoring Group On Somalia and Eritrea Extended for Another Year

The Security Council 25 July extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations panel of experts monitoring compliance with the embargoes on the delivery of weapons and military equipment to Somalia and Eritrea. (…) The Group is also tasked with examining any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with violations of the embargoes. By the resolution, the Council also decided that the arms embargo on Somalia shall not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment, or the provision of assistance, for use by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). (allAfrica)

UN Arms Treaty Seen Impacting Africa’s Conflict Zones

The president of the Africa League for the Control of Arms Coalition said he hopes a U.N. conference on conventional arms trade will have an impact on Africa’s conflict zones. Some 2,000 representatives from member states, international and regional organizations and civil society are taking part this month in the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. The aim is a legally binding treaty on the global trade of conventional weapons. Baffour Amoa said he hopes a treaty will stem the flow of illicit weapons throughout the continent. “If they [participants] were able to negotiate successfully this treaty, the hope is that transfers of weapons will become more stringent,” he said. “Third parties will be more careful in assessing the risk associated with each transfer before the transfer is affected, and we believe that these high standards will reduce the excessive flow of illegal weapons into many parts of the world.” (Voice of America)



Algeria Increases Southern Border Security

With tensions escalating in the neighbouring countries, Algeria is taking extra measures to secure its southern borders. Three thousand soldiers, with helicopters and fighter aircraft, were deployed as reinforcements along the borders with Libya, Mali and Niger, El Khabar reported on 8 July. Ground transport of goods between the countries appears to have been suspended and those crossing the border must now have authorisation from the Algerian authorities, according to the Algerian daily. Security has also been ramped up in oil and gas producing regions. In an interview with Quotidien d’Oran, Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia invoked the possibility of closing the border with Mali. (…)Algeria, however, continues to back a political solution to the Malian crisis. The issue of military intervention is dividing the country’s political spectrum. Former military officer and political analyst Mohammed Chafik Mesbah told El Khabar that a diplomatic solution is impossible since it implies talks with all parties, including the Islamist groups who have chosen terrorism. (Eurasia Review)


Al Qaeda leader Abu Hafs al-Mauritani Freed in Mauritania

Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, who was a senior adviser to al Qaeda, was released from a prison in Mauritania over the weekend, his family confirmed. Sidi Ould Walid said his brother was released after renouncing his ties to the terror network and condemning the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Hafs refused to be interviewed or to be filmed as he left the prison on 7 July. (…) Hafs spent years in custody in Iran before being extradited to Mauritania in April. Walid says his brother was interrogated multiple times and his release indicates he is no longer seen as a threat. (CBS News)

Mauritania to Extradite Gaddafi Man

MAURITANIA has agreed to extradite Abdullah al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, to Libya, the pan-Arab Al Arabiya broadcaster reports. An extradition deal was reached during negotiations with Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib, who is visiting Mauritania, added the broadcaster on 19 July, citing sources in Libya. There was no immediate official confirmation in Libya or Mauritania. The long-time spy chief disappeared from Libya after Gaddafi’s fall last year. He was arrested in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott in March, after arriving on a flight from Morocco with a false Malian passport. (The Australian)


Terror Suspects Arrested Along Mauritania Border

Senegalese security services recently thwarted the first reported infiltration attempt by suspected members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ten militants were arrested on 5 July in Dagana, a town along the Mauritanian border. The operation came less than a month after AQIM threatened to target Senegal following the country’s declaration to send a military force to northern Mali. (…) In related news, security forces detained ten mosque imams and students suspected of planning terror acts in the northeastern town of Matam, Senegal’s Xamle.net reported on July 6th. (…) The country has started implementing a series of precautionary measures in co-ordination with West African countries and France. (Eurasia Review)

Senegal Told to Prosecute Ex-President of Chad

The International Court of Justice on 20 July ordered Senegal to prosecute the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, who has lived comfortably for two decades in Senegal despite indictments in connection with political killings, torture and a host of other brutalities.The court decision, which could affect exiled leaders in other countries, found that Senegal had breached the 1984 Convention Against Torture by ignoring charges against Mr. Habré. The ruling ordered the Senegalese authorities either to prosecute him “without further delay” or to extradite him for trial elsewhere. (The New York Times)


Morocco Rebukes UN Western Sahara Envoy

The Moroccan government on 2 July confirmed its decision to withdraw support for UN Western Sahara Envoy Christopher Ross. “The Moroccan government will not back down on the decision to withdraw confidence from the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara as long as he does not adhere to neutrality,” Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani told the Chamber of Representatives. Ross cannot continue his mission in the absence of trust from the parties to Western Sahara talks, he insisted. El Othmani added that his country was still waiting for the final decision of the UN Secretary-General in this regard. The Moroccan government on 17th May announced that it had lost confidence in the UN envoy and accused him of “biased and unbalanced guidance” in brokering unofficial talks between Morocco and the Polisario. (Eurasia Review)


Arab Spring Falters, but Tunisian Democracy Thrives

Egypt is in a full-blown constitutional crisis. Syria is in a borderline civil war. Yemen elected its former vice president — who ran unopposed. Is the Arab Spring dead? If not, where is it living? And the winner is .?.?.Tunisia, where it all started in December 2010 after a frustrated fruit seller set himself on fire. As you read these words, a freely elected assembly is drafting a new constitution from scratch. The coalition government has faced challenges, but it is functioning. A lively press and an active political class, both inside the 217-seat constituent assembly and outside it, are criticizing like crazy. Unions are pressuring the government to create more jobs, and the government is trying to do what it can without throwing fiscal responsibility to the winds. (…) Tunisia is not all the way there, but having visited the country this month, I found it hard to escape the conclusion that this is what a democratic revolution is supposed to look like. If democracy is going to work in the Arabic-speaking world, Tunisia is becoming the model. If it fails in Tunisia, the prospects for every place else are very grim indeed. (Miami Herald)

Tunisia Ex-Dictator Receives New Life Sentence

Tunisia’s former dictator on 19 July received his second life sentence in absentia from a military court that convicted him for complicity in the killings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him last year. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who is in exile in Saudi Arabia, was already given a life sentence in June in the deaths of protesters in southern Tunisia, where the movement against him began in December 2010. Tunisia has asked Saudi Arabia to extradite Mr. Ben Ali so he can face these and a number of other charges in person, but has never received an answer. Nonetheless, the government here has pledged to bring Mr. Ben Ali and all of his associates to justice for crimes they allegedly committed during his 23-year iron-fisted rule. The latest case concerned protesters killed in the capital and the north of the country, and some 43 officials were tried, receiving sentences ranging from five years to life in prison. The former head of the presidential guard, Ali Seriati, was sentenced to 20 years prison, while former Interior Minister Rafik Belhaj Kacem was given 15 years. Both are in custody. Mr. Ben Ali and his family are subject to dozens of lawsuits in military and civilian courts. The one-time autocrat already has been convicted of drug trafficking, arms trading and abuse of public funds and been sentenced to a total of 66 years in prison by civil courts. (Wall Street Journal)

Tunisia Proposes Open Maghreb Borders

Tunisia is considering allowing citizens from Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania to enter the country without visas or passports. Also under review is the possibility of granting residency, voting rights, and ownership rights to citizens from those three countries. Though some feel the move may spur economic growth and bolster Maghreb unity, others feel it may be a rushed decision that sacrifices security. “These measures come under the bilateral agreements concluded [with the Maghreb countries] since the sixties, and the current government felt [the need] to activate them,” Tunisian Secretary of State in charge of Arab and African Affairs Abdullah Triki told TAP. He explained that the decision was spurred by tourism and economic considerations and would allow citizens of the three countries to enter Tunisia by merely showing an identity card instead of a passport. (Eurasia Review)


Is Democracy Under Threat in West Africa?

In May, Said Djinnit, head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), briefed Security Council members on what he saw as a disquieting trend in West Africa. (…) Democracy more the norm Because of West Africa’s past experience with coups and civil wars, it was inevitable that the latest developments would induce strong anxieties. Yet for the past 10 years, elections and peaceful changes of government were becoming more the norm. Some of the region’s long-lasting wars, like those in Sierra Leone and Liberia, were ended, and democratic elections brought in more capable governments. (…) Mali, however, was a celebrated case of democratic awakening in West Africa, so the events there did take many by surprise. On 22 March, soldiers led by a young officer named Amadou Sanogo abandoned a faltering campaign against Tuareg rebels in the north of the country and seized power from President Amadou Toumani Touré. ECOWAS promptly condemned the coup and imposed financial and other sanctions on Mali. (…) When Mr. Touré arrived in Senegal in April as a refugee, the scene was steeped in pathos. (…)There were mass protests, leading to burned public buildings and several deaths. Senegalese – and the world – prepared for the worst. (…) Yet Senegal’s democratic traditions did not prevent pre-election tensions and violence, suggesting that even reasonably strong democratic systems in the region are vulnerable. (allAfrica)

Crisis Event Plays Out As U.S. Military Reservists Train West African Forces

“We have a situation,” cried out a radio operator of the Gambian Armed Forces. U.S. Marines and multi-national forces from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, The Gambia, and France encountered an angry mob as part of a mock training exercise, 26 June – 24 July 2012, to prepare them for real-world crisis events. The multi-national forces gathered at the Thies training area to enhance military leadership and tactical procedures through training simulations. (…) While the U.S. service members bring technical and tactical operations expertise, the West African partners bring real-world experience from their participation in previous U.N. peacekeeping missions. Working side-by-side and combining efforts, both nations benefit from the training exercise. (allAfrica)


Liberia Is Not Prepared to Unravel ‘Umbilical Cord’ With AFRICOM

Liberia’s Defense Minister, Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., says Liberia is not prepared to un-tie what he calls the umbilical cord with the US-Africa Command, AFRICOM. According to the Defense Minister, the presence of AFRICOM’s engagement in Liberia will help in maintaining a tacit guarantee of security in Liberia over at least a three-election period. For the purpose of cooperative security location, the Minister availed a request leading to Liberia being considered for future exercises being conducted by AFRICOM in other parts of Africa. He further proffered the need for AFRICOM’s support in setting up an institutionalized training program in Liberia for continuous capability development of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). (allAfrica)


Support Dwindles For Ansar Al-Din

Islamists in the north-eastern Malian town of Kidal have suffered a series of high-level defections, azawadweb.com reported on 8th July. Al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Din, who are in control of northern Mali, launched several large-scale raids in Kidal and arrested many of the group’s young men for “mixing” with women, according to the website. The harsh measures caused a number of their recruits to drop support for the radical Islamist group. Meanwhile, Ansar al-Din denied reports about its growing disintegration and released two videos showing their recent battles against the Malian forces in Tessalit, Aguelhok and Kidal. (…) The armed group claimed it had captured 650 Malian soldiers in the battles of Tessalit, Aguelhok and Kidal, which is the birthplace of field commander Iyad Ag Ghaly. (…)However, many doubted the authenticity of pictures in the newly released video. “We may witness a new decline in al-Qaeda’s media credibility, which isn’t free from clear exaggeration,” commented Sahara Media journalist Mohammedu al-Neji. (Eurasia Review)

Mali Seeks International Criminal Court Investigation into Crimes Committed During Unrest

Mali’s justice minister on 18 July asked prosecutors at the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into “grave and massive” crimes committed in the African nation that was plunged into turmoil by a coup this year. Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that Justice Minister Malick Coulibaly had handed her a letter seeking “to determine whether one of more persons should be charged” in violence committed since the beginning of the year. (…) Mali has been mired in turbulence since a March coup overthrew the democratically elected president. Bensouda says alleged crimes including killings and rapes, and the conscription of child soldiers have been reported “by several sources.” (…) Mali’s government said it is appealing to the Hague-based tribunal to investigate because the country’s own courts cannot prosecute the crimes. (Washington Post)

Mali Refugee Overspill Worsens Sahel Food Crisis

Refugees fleeing the confict in northern Mali are placing even greater strain on the Sahel region, already battling a severe food crisis after failed harvests last year that have left millions hungry. Refugees fleeing the confict in northern Mali are placing even greater strain on the Sahel region, already battling a severe food crisis after failed harvests last year that have left millions hungry. Over 18 million people in eight countries running across the Sahel, a semi-arid belt crossing the north of Africa, are already facing food shortages and drought. Now the 250,000 Malians estimated by the UN refugee agency UNHCR to have poured into Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria have put even greater pressure on food resources. (Bangkok Post)

U.S. Commits 10 Million for Refugees As Intervention Talk Builds

President Barack Obama on 10 July authorised the release of 10 million dollars in emergency funding to help with the refugee crisis stemming from continued violence in northern Mali, in response to warnings that international aid efforts were in danger of drying up in coming months. he move comes as hundreds of thousands of Malians remain displaced from their homes amidst a near-civil war following a March coup that resulted in a political vacuum. ccording to the most recent statistics, nearly 230,000 Malians are thought to have fled to neighbouring countries – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger – in addition to some 155,000 who are internally displaced within Mali. (allAfrica)


Carrot or Stick? – Nigerians Divided Over Boko Haram

How to deal with Boko Haram violence splits Nigeria: in the north, the centre of bombings and shootings by the Islamist extremists, there is an almost universal demand for dialogue, while in the south the prevailing attitude is that there can be no negotiation with “terrorists” until they end the insurrection that has killed more than 1,000 people since 2009. President Goodluck Jonathan has repeatedly said he is open to talks, but not with a “faceless” Boko Haram. “You must have a face. You must tell us the reason why you are doing what you are doing,” he said in an interview in June. The government has also invested in the stick. But the unprecedented defence and security vote of US$6 billion for 2012, collaboration with Western security forces, and the closure of Nigeria’s borders with its northern neighbours, is yet to blunt the Salafists. (allAfrica)

Nigeria’s Oil Exports Set to Fall to 11-Month Low

Top African oil producer Nigeria’s loadings are set to fall to 1.81 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, a provisional loading programme showed on 23 July, leaving exports at an 11-month low. The OPEC producer’s exports have mostly been around 2 million bpd so far this year, helped by the new Usan grade which began production in February. The last time exports were so low was October 2011 when the country was due to load 1.80 million bpd. Nigeria will ship a total of around 55 million barrels of oil in September compared to around 68 million in August, a provisional programme compiled by Reuters showed. (Reuters)

Sixteen Killed in Jos As River Rikkos Overflows Banks

Sixteen persons were confirmed dead in Gangare and other communities in the Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau when River Rikkos over flew its banks after a heavy downpour on 22 July night. “So far, we have recovered 16 corpses but many others are still missing,” the Publicity Secretary of Jama’atul-Nasril- Islam, Alhaji Faruk Umar, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on 23 July. (…) “More than 200 houses were washed away following the flooding of Rikkos River,” he said, listing the worst-hit areas as Gangare and Ungwan-Rogo. Umar blamed what he described as the colossal damage on the practice of building houses on waterways and blocking of drainage, calling for a massive drainage evacuation to allow free flow of water. (AllAfrica)


Ghana’s President John Atta Mills Dies

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills, who was suffering from throat cancer, has died in hospital in the capital, Accra. A statement from his office said the 68-year-old died a few hours after being taken ill, but did not give details. “It is with a heavy heart… that we announce the sudden and untimely death of the president of the Republic of Ghana,” the statement said. Mr Atta Mills had ruled the West African country since 2009. The BBC’s Sammy Darko, who is at the military hospital in Accra, says Mr Atta Mills’ voice has been degenerating in the last few months. (…) Vice-President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as president on 24 July, in line with Ghana’s constitution. (BBC News)


Renewed Concerns Over Ivory Coast

A U.N. official called on Ivorian forces to take responsibility for security operations after seven people were killed in a refugee camp in the country. Hundreds of people stormed a camp for the internally displaced in Ivory Coast, leaving seven people dead and 13 others injured. Bert Koenders, U.N. special envoy to Ivory Coast, condemned the attacks in the west of the country that left 5,000 people displaced. (…) The envoy told members of the U.N. Security Council last week the situation in Ivory Coast was “complex” nearly two years after disputed 2010 presidential elections. Rival claims to victory pushed the country to the brink of civil war and left former President Laurent Gbagbo on trial at The Hague. (United Press International)


ASWJ, Ethiopian and TFG Forces Vow to Crush Al Shabab

Army chiefs of Somalia government, Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a (ASWJ) and Ethiopian, promised on 10 July that they are committed to terminate swiftly the long-running fighting against Al shabab militants in south of the country. “Our troops will pursue and crush Al Shabaab fighters inside Somalia’s Southern regions of Bay, Bakol and Gedo with an iron fist approach, where there are currently big military movements against the militants, which have claims to links with the Al Qaeda,” said ASWJ official. Somali government soldiers supporting by Ethiopian forces and ASWJ fighters conquered many key locations in south and central Somalia from Al Shabaab in the past few months. Kenya is among the countries in the region that contributed peacekeeping soldiers into the African Union Mission in Somalia known as (AMISOM) serving under the mandate of UN Security Council. (allAfrica)

Air Force, Navy Integrate Security at JTF-Horn of Africa

Air Force and Navy personnel at Camp Lemonnier integrated their security forces into one cohesive unit 1 July. The overall purpose of this integration was to enhance security efforts on camp. Before the integration, the two branches had separate areas of security responsibility, which presented a few challenges. Col. Dean Lee, 449th Air Expeditionary Group commander, mentioned lack of communication and coordination between security elements and overlapping zones of responsibility as some of the issues present before the integration. Combining security efforts was proposed to help reduce or eliminate these challenges. (…) Under the new integration, Air Force, Navy and Army security personnel train together and serve side-by-side on various details, such as guarding the flightline and camp entry control points, providing internal security, conducting camp patrols and performing law enforcement tasks. (…)The mission of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, one of the U.S. Africa Command components stationed at Camp Lemonnier, is to conduct operations in the combined joint operations area to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional stability, dissuade conflict, and protect U.S. and coalition interests. (U.S. Air Force News)


U.S. Sanctions Eritrean Officials for Aiding Somalia Militants

The United States imposed sanctions on two Eritrean government officials on 5 July, saying they had assisted Islamist militants including the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab in the lawless neighboring state of Somalia. The U.S. Treasury included the two Eritreans on a list of six people newly placed under sanctions for their role in the Somalian conflict, which U.S. officials see as a growing threat to regional stability across East Africa. (…) The United Nations Security Council has sanctioned Eritrea for providing support to Somalia’s Islamist militants, a charge the Eritrean government has strongly denies. (Reuters)


Ethiopia’s Meles Goes on Sick Leave

This week, Ethiopians were closely following any news about the condition of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. A spokesman said in Addis Ababa on 19 July that the prime minister was taking sick leave on doctors’ orders. Spokesman Bereket Simon said Mr. Meles’ health was good, but he needed time to recover from an illness caused in part by an overload of work. (…)The spokesman said the government was operating as normal and that Mr. Meles was still in power. (…) David Shinn, formerly American ambassador to Ethiopia, told VOA that he had no information about the prime minister’s health. But he said the spokesman’s comments suggested a serious health issue. (Voice of America)

Ethiopian Police Clash with Muslim Protesters, Several Arrested

Ethiopian police clashed on 21 July with scores of Muslims protesters complaining that the state is interfering in their religion, witnesses and officials said. The protesters, some wearing masks, blocked the entrance of the Anwar Mosque in the west of the capital Addis Ababa and hurled stones at riot police who had surrounded the compound after noon prayers. (…)Thousands of Muslims have staged sporadic street protests in the capital since late last year, arguing that the government is promoting an alien branch of Islam, the Al Ahbash sect, which is avowedly apolitical and has numerous adherents in the United States. The government denies promoting Al Ahbash, but is determined to prevent Islamic militancy spilling over from neighbouring Sudan or lawless Somalia. (The Express Tribune, Reuters)

UN Human Rights Chief ‘Seriously Alarmed’ By Intimidation of Journalists

The top United Nations human rights official said 22 July she is “seriously alarmed” by the current climate of intimidation against journalists and human rights defenders in Ethiopia due to an overly broad interpretation of laws concerning terrorism and civil society in the country. “The recent sentencing of 20 Ethiopians, including prominent blogger Eskinder Nega, journalists and opposition figures, under the vague anti-terrorism law has brought into stark focus the precarious situation of journalists, human rights defenders and Government critics in the country,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a news release. Charging journalists and political opposition member with terrorism and treason charges is seriously limiting their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and association, Ms. Pillay noted, and urged the Government to review its legislation, as well as its interpretation and application by the courts. (allAfrica)

Rwanda, Ethiopia Sign Co-operation Pacts

Rwanda and Ethiopia on 13 July signed three bilateral agreements that will see the two countries boost ties in various areas. The agreements included a document setting up Joint Permanent Commission to strengthen bilateral cooperation, a general cooperation agreement to shape and expand cooperation in the political, economic, trade and investment, education, health and other fields as well as another strategic partnership on issues of defence and security. (…) Under the general cooperation agreement, the parties reaffirm their commitment to the objectives and principles of the African Union, and undertake to further strengthen their bilateral relations and to this end, to shape and expand their cooperation in the political, economic, trade and investment, scientific, educational, health technical and other fields on the basis of the principle of sovereign equality of states. (allAfrica)


Kenya Remains on High Terror Alert

The government has reassured that the country’s security forces are on high alert to prevent terror attacks in Kenya, hours after Al Shabaab militants warned of attacks in the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan. Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka on 20 July said the government will not surrender to terrorists and urged Kenyans to join the security agents in fighting terrorism by volunteering any information they may have. (…) A police source told us; “security has been intensified mainly in Nairobi, Mombasa and border towns where the terrorists are targeting.” (…) The threats were first issued in May by a US-based private intelligence firm IntelCenter, which reported that the militant group had warned Kenyans that the country “will weep two weeks from now.” The warning came two weeks after the 28 May attack on a Nairobi building housing clothing retail stores that killed one person and injured more than 30 others. Al-Shabaab insurgents have launched a spate of attacks in Kenya, mainly using grenades and it is believed that these are building up to a larger attack. (Capital FM News)

U.S. to Provide Kenya With Drones to Fight Militants

The Pentagon plans to provide small drones to Kenya, part of a new package of military assistance for key African partners to combat al Qaeda and al Shabaab militants in Somalia. Kenya will get eight hand-launched Raven drones with sensors used to pinpoint targets, according to Pentagon documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Ravens are unarmed but can be used to identify targets for strikes using ground forces or armed aircraft. (…) The Ravens for Kenya are part of an initial $41.4 million package of military aid that also includes trucks, communications gear and rifles for Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda. The U.S. provided Ravens to Uganda last year, according to officials and documents. The U.S. military has identified al Shabaab as a terrorist threat and has targeted some of the group’s leaders in Somalia using drones and special forces. Officials said the new funds are meant to bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of key African allies in the region to go after the group and other al Qaeda supporters. (Wall Street Journal)

Iranians on Trial in Kenya Deny Bomb Plot Charges

Two Iranians suspected of plotting to make bombs for attacks in Kenyan cities denied the charges against them at the first day of their trial in Nairobi on 23 July. At least 32 people have been killed in a series of attacks in the capital, the port city of Mombasa, and the northern town of Garissa since Kenyan troops invaded Somalia last October to crush al Shabaab insurgents blamed for a surge in violence and kidnappings. Ahmad Mohammed and Sayed Mousavi were charged at the Nairobi High Court with being in possession of 15 kg (33 pounds) of explosives, preparing to commit a felony, and intent to commit grievous harm. They both pleaded not guilty. Anti-Terrorism Police Unit Officer Kennedy Musyoki told Judge Paul Biwott the two were arrested in Nairobi in June while on their way to the airport. (Reuters)


Somali Government to Boost Up Fighting Against Al Shabab

The state minister for Somali defense ministry Mohammed Mo’alin Nur, expressed his gratitude towards the recent military gains made by government forces and AU peacekeeping soldiers against Al shabab fighters in the country. He said both Somali and AU forces are still on duty to wipe out Al shabab militants from all Somali regions as to make possible for holding the upcoming presidential elections in entire rebel-held areas in Somalia, south and central regions of Somalia. Islamists from the Al-Qaeda-linked group Al-Shabab control large swathes of the country despite facing an increasing military pressure from AMISOM in south and Ethiopian troops in west and central regions of Somalia. Last week, Forces from Somalia government and AMISOM with tanks and artillery weapons, secured the town of Balad,which sits 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Mogadishu, after Al shabab pulled out, the latest military success against the militants. (allAfrica)

NATO Says it’s Winning War Against Somali Piracy

The threat from Somali pirates is receding but the international community must continue to work together to eliminate the menace, a NATO official said on 21 July. “We are getting more successful in reducing the Somali piracy threats with our constant patrolling but the international community must continue to exchange ideas and increase efforts to completely eradicate the problem,” Commodore Ben Bekkering, NATO’s counter-piracy commander, said at a news conference on Dutch war vessel HNLMS Evertsen in Muscat. According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were 69 hijacking incidents by Somali pirates from 1 Jan. to 12 July this year, a drop of 32 percent compared to the same period in 2011. (Reuters)

Somalia’s Famine: One Year On

One year after the United Nations declared a famine in parts of Somalia, there is plenty to praise and even more to fret about in a country still grappling with conflict, drought, and the muddled politics of international aid. It is almost exactly 12 months since I last visited Dolo – a shabby but relatively quiet little town near the border with Ethiopia, which was then swamped with civilians fleeing the famine zones. Today, at first glance, not much seems to have changed. Still lots of men with guns, a bone-dry countryside, hundreds of threadbare makeshift tents, and – just as we drove into a UN camp – the familiar sight of weary new arrivals squatting in the dirt. Some 3,000 people are still coming here each month. (…) “The situation is still critical,” said the UN’s chief humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden. (BBC News)


South Sudan’s First Year of Independence Mired in Conflict

9 June, South Sudan will celebrate its first year of independence. Many challenges face the young nation, including an ill-defined and violent border with Sudan, internal conflicts in the Greater Upper Nile region, and a looming economic crisis. A year ago 4 July, hopes were high for Africa’s newest nation. After more than two decades of war, South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan. (…) Though the 21-year war with Sudan officially ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, new battles face the fledgling government in Juba. These challenges include an economic crisis, clashes and cattle raids in Jonglei State, and a violently contested border with Sudan. (…) Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both found serious human rights violations in the new South Sudan. (…)”The very serious intercommunal violence that we saw in Jonglei state earlier this year really underscores the importance of improving accountability mechanisms throughout the country,” said Henry. (Voice of America)

New Talks Between Sudan and South Sudan Poised to Start

A new round of talks between Sudan, South Sudan and African Union mediators was poised to start late 22 July night, a spokesman for the South Sudanese delegation said. “A few minutes ago they called the two chief negotiators to have a meeting with the panel,” Atif Kiir, a spokesman for Juba’s delegation told AFP in the evening. The latest round of talks comes one week after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir exchanged a symbolic handshake at an AU summit. However, South Sudan said 21 July it was cancelling planned face-to-face peace talks with Sudan after accusing Khartoum of launching a new air raid on its territory. Sudan denied bombing its southern neighbor, saying it had only targeted Darfuri rebels inside its own territory. (…) Sudan wants to settle all its differences with South Sudan through talks, but sees little hope of a swift resolution while it believes Juba is backing rebels that threaten its territorial integrity, a senior ruling party official said 23 July. (The Daily Star)

Sudan’s Darfur Region Sees Fresh Clashes

There has been renewed fighting between the Sudanese government and rebels from the Darfur region’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Both sides confirmed that there had been clashes, but gave conflicting versions of events. Sudan’s army said more than 50 rebels had been killed as they were driven out two areas of East Darfur, while the JEM said it had taken control of three towns near the Abu Jabra oilfield. The Darfur war first broke out in 2003. It continues to this day, with Sudan accusing the new nation of South Sudan of supporting various Darfuri rebel groups. The South Sudanese leadership in Juba denies the charge. (…)The renewed fighting in Darfur comes as the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan are meeting in Ethiopia to try to resolve bitter disputes ahead of a UN deadline on 2 August. (BBC News)


Madagascar Leader Dismisses Mutiny, Heads to Talks with Ousted Predecessor

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina said 23 July a weekend mutiny by soldiers that turned violent will not deter him from holding talks with his main opponent, seeking to stabilize the nation. The 22 July mutiny “doesn’t stop me from seeking solutions for the country,” Rajoelina said as he left the Indian Ocean island nation for talks in the Seychelles with his predecessor Marc Ravalomanana. In 2009, Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana, who now lives in exile in South Africa. Rajoelina told reporters at the airport the mutiny was the third attempt to topple him since he took power. He currently leads a unity government charged with preparing for elections next year. (Washington Post)


China Vows to Enhance Bilateral Cooperation with Djibouti

Chinese President Hu Jintao held talks with his Djibouti counterpart Ismail Omar Guelleh 18 July, pledging to has closer bilateral relations with the East African country. In his talks with Guelleh, Hu said Chinese and Djibouti people have fostered a profound friendship despite the long distance and distinct national conditions. China appreciates the government of Djibouti for the help it provides to Chinese naval fleets which are conducting escorting missions in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali waters, Hu said. Calling Djibouti “an important partner of China,” Hu said China wants to work with Djibouti to push forward the bilateral relations in the following three aspects: Firstly, China wants to enhance mutual political trust and for the two countries to continue to support each other on major issues of respective concerns. (…) Secondly, to expand economic and trade cooperation and establish a bilateral mixed committee on economy and trade. (…) Thirdly, to boost cultural and personal exchanges. (Xinhua News)


Central African Leaders Face Challenges

Member countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC, are expected to meet in, Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo in late July to iron out differences that have retarded the smooth functioning of events in the sub-region within the past years. Despite efforts at reforms within the CEMAC zone, several issues have remained unresolved over the years giving the picture of a divided house. (…) Officially, the focus of the CEMAC summit will be to examine the Regional Economic Programme (REP) which envisages a sub-region that should by 2025 be an integrated and economically emergent zone with security, solidarity and good governance evident at the service of humanity. (allAfrica)


Congo Denounces Insurgency as Rwandan Army “Invasion”

Authorities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo accused neighbouring Rwanda on 10 July of “invading” a volatile border area, portraying an advancing rebel insurgency as a Rwandan military operation. The Rwandan government has consistently denied allegations by Congolese officials and United Nations investigators that it is fomenting and supporting the Tutsi-dominated M23 rebel movement in Congo’s mineral-rich North Kivu province, long a tinderbox of regional ethnic and political tensions. “It’s not a rebellion, it’s an invasion. We didn’t think that the Rwandan army would be throwing all its might into Congolese territory,” Erneste Kyaviro, spokesman for North Kivu governor Julien Paluku, told Reuters by telephone. Kyaviro appealed for a forceful response by the international community, especially Western nations, to pressure Rwanda to halt its alleged support for the rebellion. (…) No immediate reaction was available from Rwanda’s presidency or foreign ministry, which have in the past strenuously rejected the accusations of Rwandan support for the Congolese insurgency. (Reuters)

Congo, Rwanda Presidents Sign Up to Anti-Rebel Pact

The presidents of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda on 15 July threw their weight behind a regional pact to eliminate armed rebels in eastern Congo, signing the document and holding rare face to face talks. Along with other leaders from the Great Lakes region, Congo’s Joseph Kabila and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame put their signatures to an accord that foresees the creation of an international military force to take on multiple insurgencies in the eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu. Uneasy neighbors Congo and Rwanda, which have gone to war with each other in the past, have often swapped accusations about backing rival rebel groups, a charge that both Kigali and Kinshasa deny. (…) Endorsing 12 July’s security pact, the leaders also condemned a separate eastern rebellion by predominantly Hutu insurgents and agreed to “work with the AU and the UN for an immediate establishment of a neutral international force to eradicate” all armed groups in eastern Congo. (Reuters)

Congolese Rebel Leader Gets 14 Years

The International Criminal Court’s sentencing on 10 July 2012, of Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in prison for recruiting and using child soldiers sends an important message about the gravity of this crime, Human Rights Watch said. The trial underscores the urgency of arresting Lubanga’s co-accused, Bosco Ntaganda, and of prosecuting other crimes, including murder and rape, committed by his militia, Human Rights Watch said. Ntaganda continues to forcibly recruit children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. “Lubanga’s 14-year sentence demonstrates that recruiting and using child soldiers is a grave war crime that will be punished,” said Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The International Criminal Court is putting military commanders around the world on notice that sending children into war could put them behind bars for a good while.” Lubanga is the former president of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a Congolese rebel group implicated in numerous grave human rights abuses. (allAfrica)


US Suspends Aid to Rwanda Amid DR Congo Violence

The United States announced 22 July it will suspend military aid to Rwanda on allegations that the southern African nation is backing the rebellion in the neighboring DR Congo. “In light of information that Rwanda is supporting armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Department of State has decided it can no longer provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) appropriated in the current fiscal year to Rwanda,” said State Department spokeswoman Darby Holladay. (Agence France Presse)


SA, Angola Sign Infrastructure Pact

South Africa and Angola have signed a technical cooperation agreement to support infrastructure development in the oil-producing country, as part of a drive to stimulate increased trade and economic cooperation among countries in the southern African region. “The intention of the agreement is to support the infrastructure development that is currently taking place in Angola and make sure that small and big industries are supported through such programmes,” South African Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said on 20 July. (allAfrica)


Angolan Police Arrest 12 at Anti-Government Rally

Angolan police on 14 July arrested 10 youth protesters and two journalists at an anti-government demonstration in the capital Luanda, Portuguese state news agency Lusa reported, as tensions rise ahead of August’s presidential election. A youth movement has staged several demonstrations since March last year calling for long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to resign after 32 years at the helm of Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria. (…) The latest protest comes six weeks before the 31 Aug. election to choose lawmakers and a president, with Dos Santos widely expected to secure a win for his party thanks to its superior financial resources and control of state media. Though small in number, the protest movement has survived despite a police clampdown and attacks by pro-government groups. It accuses Dos Santos of mismanaging Angola’s oil revenues, suppressing human rights and doing too little to end widespread graft and poverty. (Reuters)

Angola and Brazil to Boost Co-Operation

The co-operation between the Angolan Agriculture Ministry and the Brazilian Firm of Research in Agro-Farming sector (Embrapa), relating to the reorganisation of Angola’s agrarian research system, might gain new dynamics in the coming times. The Angolan ambassador to Brazil, Nelson Cosme, was gathered in Brasilia with the CEO of Embrapa, Pedro Arraes, aimed at finding the best ways to come up with resources for the materialisation of Technical Co-operation Projects. The Technical Co-operation Projects agreement was signed between the two mentioned entities and is estimated at over USD two million. (allAfrica)


South Africa and China in Awkward Embrace

South Africa President Jacob Zuma in mid July hinted at Africa’s awkward friendship with China, saying that allowing an unequal trade relationship – the supply of raw materials – was unsustainable. “Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies,” he told the China-Africa Co-operation Forum. “We are particularly pleased that, in our relationship with China, we are equals and that agreements entered into are for mutual gain.” (…)A delegation to the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing on 19 and 20 July, led by Zuma, was the latest in a series of high-level exchanges between South African and Chinese dignitaries over the past two years. On 19 July, China pledged $20-billion in loans to the continent, double that of its 2009 commitment. Thabo Masebe, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesperson, said the Beijing Declaration, signed in 2010, aimed to increase trade volumes and encourage investment by both countries. (…) But official engagement was not one strictly governed by trade. “China is not only looking to Africa to extract raw materials, but to invest in infrastructure and skills,” said Masebe. (Mail & Guardian)


Zambia’s President Snubs Opposition Leader

Political tension between Zambia’s leader, Michael Sata and leader of the country’s largest opposition-MMD-leader, Nevers Mumba intensifies. The leader of the opposition stormed State House to seek audience with the President over his decision to continue poaching members of the opposition party into Government portfolios. As part of his inclusive approach to government since coming to power, Sata has appointed opposition MPs to positions in public office. (…)Dr. Mumba is unhappy because President Sata has yet again offered jobs to two additional Members of Parliament (MMD MPs, Mkaika’s David Phiri and Richard Tonde Taima of Solwezi East). This comes at the time when MMD plans to expel all of its nine members of parliament that have traded their political office for inferior posts as deputy ministers in the PF administration. However, President Sata accuses Dr. Mumba of distorting facts to cause confusion in the country. (Africa News)


Botswana: U.S., Botswana Special Forces Train Together

A total of 60 Special Forces soldiers from the United States and Botswana came together for the first combined field training exercise in 10 years, 1-25 June 2012. Exercise Eastern Piper 12, conducted by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAF), was a three week Foreign International Defense (FID) structured counter-terrorism base exercise, which took place at the Thebepatswa Air Base in Gaborone, Botswana. (allAfrica)

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