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

LDESP AFRICOM News Update – October 2012

LDESP NEWS CENTER: NEWS UPDATE FROM AFRICA (2 November 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.

AFRICOM

Panetta: New AFRICOM Leader to be nominated

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says an Army general with extensive experience in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is being nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the military’s Africa command, amid growing U.S. worries about terrorism and unrest in that region. Gen. David Rodriguez, currently head of U.S. Army Forces Command, would be the third Army general to head Africa Command, which was created in 2007. Panetta says Rodriguez played a key role in the surge of U.S. forces to Afghanistan, when he was the No. 2 U.S. commander there. The U.S. military’s focus on Africa has grown in recent years, with the conflict in Libya and the increasing threat of al-Qaida linked terrorists who operate out of safe havens across the northern swath of the continent. (Air Force Times)

Decision Soon on Ex-AFRICOM Chief’s Punishment

Demoting a four-star general for spending misconduct could be harsh and would force the officer to lose as much as $1 million in retirement pay, the Army’s top military officer said on 22 October, noting that a lower level officer would never be asked to pay such a high price. Gen. Raymond Odierno’s comments came as Army and Pentagon leaders are weighing the potential punishments for former Africa Command head Gen. William “Kip” Ward. A Pentagon Inspector General’s report found that Ward spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and other expenses. Asked if he thought losing a star — which would drop Ward’s annual retirement pay from about $236,650 a year to $208,802 — was an excessive punishment, Odierno said he thought people should know the potential costs. (…) He said it may not be fair to compare Ward’s possible punishments to younger officers, who in many cases are often demoted, discharged or arrested and charged in connection with financial crimes or other offenses. (Army Times)

African Union

African Union Wants Western Financial Help for Mali Mission

As the African Union develops plans for military intervention in Mali to retake the north from Islamic militants, western countries are being asked not only for diplomatic but also financial support for the mission. The African Union has been given 45 days by the UN to finalize plans for the military operation in Mali. The operation is expected to begin in 2013. France has been a key promoter of intervention in Mali. Mali is a former French colony and France still has interests there. A number of French nationals have been kidnapped by rebels. However, the U.S. is likely to be a key player behind the scenes as well. (…) As well as France and the U.S. the UK has offered help for the mission. Stephen O’Brien, the special representative for the Sahel region said that Britain had not ruled out anything as it prepares to decide how it will help out with the operation. (Digital Journal)

Sudan: African Union ‘Unanimously’ Endorses Mediation Proposal on Abyei

The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on 24 October unanimously endorsed an initial proposal prepared by the mediation seeking to settle a conflict over the ownership of Abyei, between South Sudan and Sudan. The AUHIP proposal calls to hold Abyei’s referendum in October 2013 and only the Misseriya residing Abyei can participate in this vote. The text comes in accord with the South Sudanese position but not with the Sudanese one. Khartoum supported the partition of the disputed area. The Council’s approval of the proposal comes a day after the African mediation circulated a new proposal seeking to extend negotiations for a further six weeks, according a South Sudanese official in Addis Ababa.The purpose of the extension, which was criticised by Juba, was to allow the two parties to “voluntarily” reach a consensus on the remaining outstanding issues including the final status of Abyei. (All Africa)

Somalia: AU Seeks a Lift to Arms Embargo, Charcoal Ban in Somalia

The African Union (AU) on 30 October urged the United Nations Security Council to review an arms embargo imposed two-decades ago on war-torn Somalia. The Commission of the African Union (AU) and the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) jointly appealed a lift to the arms embargo to help the country rebuild its weak army, empower its security and defense sector. The 54-member continental bloc stressed that a lift to the weapons ban is crucial if Somalia forces are to further defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab Islamist rebels (…) The AU further called on the UN council to boost additional support to for the civilian and maritime components of the peace keeping force (AMISOM) so as to successfully carry out its peace keeping mission per the priorities set by the Somali President and Government.The UN Security Council on 31 October voted unanimously for a week-long extension to the mandate of AMISOM. However the Council is expected to pass a resolution in November that would extend the mandate for a full year.The Council is said to have been divided on deciding to lift the arms embargo as well as to end the charcoal export bans against Somalia. Charcoal is believed to be the main financial source of al-Shabaab and the UN in February banned charcoal exports to drain the funds reaching the radical group. (All Africa)

Somali and African Union Troops Enter Kismayo

The first Somali government and African Union troops are reported to have entered the strategic Somali port of Kismayo (…) On 1 October, the al-Qaeda-aligned militants said they had withdrawn from Kismayo after an AU military assault. Kenyan and Somali forces had launched a beach assault on the Islamist group’s last major bastion the day before, but had met some resistance. (…) Somali government spokesman in Kismayo Mohamed Faarah Daher told the BBC that AU and Somali forces had gone into the city to establish security for the population, and had also taken up positions at the airport and sea port. (…) Kenyan troops are part of an African force trying to wrest control of Somalia from militants for the new United Nations-backed president. After resisting the AU and Somali advance, al-Shabab announced it had shut its five-year administration in Kismayo. (BBC)

United Nations

Exclusive: Rwanda, Uganda Arming Congo Rebels, Providing Troops – U.N. Panel

Rwanda’s defense minister is commanding a rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is being armed by Rwanda and Uganda, who also sent troops to aid the insurgency in a deadly attack on U.N. peacekeepers, according to a U.N. report. The U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts said in a confidential report that Rwanda and Uganda, despite their denials, continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops. The 44-page report, seen by Reuters on 16 October, said M23 has expanded territory under its control, stepped up recruitment of child soldiers and summarily executed recruits and prisoners. (…)The report added that M23 had expanded its control of Rutshuru Territory with extensive foreign support in July 2012 and had taken advantage of a recent informal ceasefire “to expand alliances and command proxy operations elsewhere.” Nearly half a million people have been displaced due to the fighting between M23 and Congolese army. M23 has proven so resilient that one senior U.N. diplomatic source told Reuters privately that Rwanda has effectively “annexed” mineral-rich eastern Congo thanks to the rebel force. The rebellion also is being funded by traders in Rwanda who are profiting from tin, tungsten and tantalum smuggled across the border from mines in the eastern DRC, according to the report. (Reuters)

UN Council Asks W. Africa for Mali Military Plan

The UN Security Council on 13 October approved a resolution that presses West African nations to speed up preparations for an international military intervention aimed at reconquering northern Mali. The text unanimously approved by the council also urges authorities in Bamako and representatives of “Malian rebel groups” controlling the north to “engage, as soon as possible, in a credible negotiation process.” The council members warned that the process should be undertaken with a view toward “a sustainable political solution, mindful of the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali.” (…) The council asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union in order to submit to the council within 45 days “detailed and actionable recommendations” in preparation for the deployment of an international military force in Mali. (…) After details for military intervention are submitted, the 15-member council would still have to pass a second resolution to give the green light to the deployment. That is not expected to happen before the end of 2012. (AFP News)

Sudan: UN-African Union Peacekeeping Mission Strongly Condemns Deadly Attack in Darfur

The United Nations has deplored an ambush that took place in the Sudanese region of Darfur on 3 October, leaving four peacekeepers dead and eight others injured. The incident, involving a Nigerian military patrol serving with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), occurred some two kilometres from the Mission’s regional headquarters in El Geneina, West Darfur. UNAMID personnel, who were heavily fired on from several directions, returned fire, according to a news release issued by UNAMID. (…) UNAMID is tasked with protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process and helping ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance across Darfur, which has been the scene of fighting between Sudanese Government troops and their allied militias and rebels since 2003. Since the Mission’s initial deployment at the beginning of 2008, over 40 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile actions. (All Africa)

European Union

EU Leaders Call Mali Crisis a Threat to Europe

EU leaders said on 19 October, that the crisis in Mali, where Islamists have seized control of much of the north of the country, was an “immediate threat” to Europe, and threatened to impose sanctions on the armed militia there. It was the first time EU heads of state and government had pronounced collectively on the crisis, which broke out in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to take control of the north. Islamists, some allied with al Qaeda, have since hijacked their revolt. (Reuters Canada)

EU Grants Ivory Coast 115 Million Euros Budget Support

The European Union granted Ivory Coast 115 million euros ($149.04 million) in budget support on 25 October, aiming to help the West African nation back on its feet following a decade of political crisis that ended in a brief war in 2011. The world’s top cocoa grower, Ivory Coast suffered from years of stagnation during the conflict which saw the country divided between northern rebels and southern government loyalists. (…) The EU, one of the West African nation’s top donors, has mobilised 430 million euros to aid Ivory Coast’s reconstruction since April 2011. The first disbursement of the new funding is expected before the end of 2012. (Reuters Africa)

EU Alarmed over DR Congo Violence

The European Union on 22 October sounded the alarm about violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, calling for an end to support for armed groups in the area. (…)Fighting broke out in April between the M23 militia and government forces, creating a security vacuum that has allowed other armed groups to re-emerge in the tense eastern parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, with the United Nations estimating that their ranks could soon swell to 760,000. There have also been reports of armed groups massacring hundreds of people in the area. Rwanda and Uganda have both been accused of aiding M23, but have denied doing so. Much of the violence in eastern Congo stems from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which saw militants involved in the killing flee across the border. (IOL News)

Somalia: EU Ambassador to Somalia Meets With Puntland President

A delegation led by EU Ambassador to Somalia Michele Cervone visited the capital of Puntland Garowe and met with Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole (…) The EU delegation was led by Ambassador Cervone and included Head of EU’s new capacity building mission Admiral Jacques Launay. (…) The delegation met with Puntland President Farole to discuss a new program called Regional Maritime Capacity Building that will enhance maritime capacities in the region including Puntland, Somaliland, Djibouti Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles. According to the EU official website, the program will support the development of a Coastal Police Force and will include activities such as, “expert advice on legal, policy and operational matters concerning maritime security”. EU’s Counter-piracy new Maritime Capacity initiative comes at a time when experts warn of a resurge in piracy off the coast of Somalia. Piracy attacks off of the coast of Somalia have decreased drastically over the past year, however marine experts have warned that the dip could be short lived. (All Africa)

CENTRAL/WEST AFRICA

Cameroon

Cameroon: Government Urged to Reduce Disaster Risk after Northern Floods

Following severe flooding in the north of Cameroon, the country is being urged by the United Nations to take steps to reduce disaster risks in the face of extreme weather. Three weeks of heavy rain in August in the North region caused the partial collapse of the Lagdo dam and the overflow of the Benue River, triggering deadly flooding in some 15 villages of both Cameroon and Nigeria. According to UN reports, 30 people died and 60,000 were displaced in Cameroon’s North and Far North regions, including 18,000 children, raising fears of disease outbreaks. (…) The government has announced that it will begin work on the dykes and the dam as soon as the rainy season ends in January 2013. (All Africa)

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC Faces Alarming Food Crisis

The Democratic Republic of Congo has the highest rate of malnutrition in central and West Africa, affecting 43% of children under five, says UNICEF on 30 October. The DR Congo, affected by successive wars, is followed by the Central African Republic (40.7%) and Cameroon (32.5%), Marianne Flach, the representative of the UN children’s agency in Congo, said suffer from this condition. (…) She also added that the Congo Republic had 175 000 young children suffering from chronic malnutrition, or a rate of 24.4%. (…) Chronic malnutrition is a plague that affects several countries in the world and in Africa. It is the underlying cause of 35% of deaths in the world and can appear in different forms. Flach called for a “co-ordinate multi-sector response” to eradicate the problem. (Afrik-News)

DR Congo Army Says M23 Rebels Allied with Hutu FDLR

Two rebel groups active in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east, the M23 and FDLR, have formed an alliance and clashed with the country’s military, an army spokesman said on 17 October. Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Hamuli said the M23, a rebel group formed by army mutineers who have been battling with their former colleagues and sowing terror in the east, had teamed up with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in a bid to gain more territory in the region. The M23 was formed in April by former fighters in the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), an ethnic Tutsi rebel group that was integrated into the army under a 2009 peace deal whose terms the mutineers claim were never fully implemented. The FDLR’s members are ethnic Hutus who were soldiers in the Rwandan army before being forced out of the country in the wake of the 1994 genocide, which killed 800,000 people — mostly Tutsis. M23 spokesman Vianney Kazarama denied that the group had formed an alliance with the FDLR. (AFP News)

DR Congo Says Seeks Bigger Stake in Mine Projects

Democratic Republic of Congo will seek to raise its stake in new mining projects to 35 percent from the current five percent in a revised mining code, the country’s top mining official said on 30 October. Congo is among a slew of minerals-rich countries across Africa seeking to raise state shares in lucrative resource contracts, in a trend that could deter international investors. (…) Congo – which holds rich deposits of copper, tin, cobalt and gold – is reviewing its ten year old mining laws after the government said it wanted to increase receipts from the sector. The new law is expected early 2013. (…) Companies in Congo have expressed concern that proposed changes to increase the state’s receipts would discourage investment in the country, which is already plagued by rebel movements, political turmoil, and crumbling infrastructure. (Reuters Africa)

Rwanda

Rwanda Warns against Cutting Aid over Congo Rebels

Rwanda’s foreign minister warned on 18 October that it would be “the biggest mistake” for any countries to withdraw aid to Kigali over a U.N. report accusing Rwanda’s defense minister of commanding rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The United States, Sweden and the Netherlands have all suspended some aid to Rwanda, which relies on donors for about 40 percent of its budget. In September, the European Union froze further budgetary support to Rwanda. However, Britain unblocked part of its cash in September, praising Rwanda for constructively pursuing peace. (…) The Congolese government on 17 October demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the U.N. experts’ report. Mushikiwabo dismissed the idea that action should be taken on the basis of a report that she said was flawed and untrue. She also said Rwanda felt vindicated by its successful election to the Security Council. (Reuters)

Rwanda Elected to UN Security Council

Rwanda won a seat on the UN Security Council on 18 October, despite accusations by a United Nations panel that Rwanda’s defence minister commands a rebellion in Democratic Republic of Congo. (…)Rwanda was unopposed in its bid for the African seat on the council that South Africa will vacate at the end of December, but still needed approval from two-thirds of the UN General Assembly members present to secure the two-year term, which starts in 2013. It won 148 votes in the 193-nation assembly. The election of Rwanda was likely to renew questions about the image of the council, as it tries to overcome division and find a way to end the war in Syria. (…) Rwanda was welcomed to the council by Britain’s deputy UN representative, Philip Parham, who said it will “bring to the Council the particular perspective of a country that has overcome serious conflict and has done so more successfully than many.” (The Star, Associated Press)

Rwanda Opposition Leader Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison on Charges of Treason, Genocide Denial

A Rwandan court sentenced the country’s top opposition political leader to eight years in prison on 30 October for treason and on a charge unique to this central African nation torn apart by murderous ethnic attacks 18 years ago — genocide ideology. The opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire, returned to Rwanda in 2010 after living abroad for 16 years and quickly visited the country’s genocide memorial, where she asked why Hutus killed in the violence were not recognized like the minority Tutsis were. She had planned to run for president but instead was arrested. (…) The government accused Ingabire — who has had contacts with the FDLR, a group of Hutu fighters in Congo — of trying to raise an armed group, a charge Ingabire denied. The court acquitted her on charges of promoting ethnic division and genocide ideology. Ingabire’s lawyer, Iain Edwards, said Ingabire will appeal the court’s ruling. (Montreal Gazette)

Angola

Oil-Rich Angola Bids to Secure Future with $5bn Wealth Fund

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, has launched a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund in an attempt to diversify its economy — a move more associated with wealthy Gulf States like Qatar and the UAE. The state-owned investment fund, known as the Fundo Soberano de Angola, will invest domestically and internationally, focusing on infrastructure development and the hospitality industry. These are two areas the Government of Angola believes is “likely to exhibit strong growth”. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, the son of Angola’s longtime president who is on the board of the fund, said “now is a very good time.” (…) More than 90% of Angola’s revenue comes from oil production — reaching around 1.9 million barrels a day — and it is second only to Nigeria in its exports. But despite its oil wealth, the country remains largely impoverished. Dos Santos says the aim of the fund is to invest profits accrued from oil to promote social development in the country.

NORTH AFRICA, SAHARA/SAHEL REGION

Libya

Armed Libyan Protesters, Militiamen Occupy Area near Parliament, Beat up Journalists

Around 200 mostly armed protesters and militiamen occupied an area near Libya’s parliament building on 1 November, blocking nearby roads and beating up journalists in protest of the country’s new Cabinet. For the third day in a row, the disgruntled protesters and armed men held a sit-in against the new government formed by Prime Minister Ali Zidan and endorsed by Libya’s Congress on 31 October. (…) The protesters say the 30-member Cabinet includes former members of Moammar Gadhafi’s deposed regime, and should undergo screening by a state body tasked with barring such people from government jobs. Among them are Foreign Minister Ali al-Alouji and the Minister of Religious Endowment who both served under Gadhafi.It is not clear who is organizing the protests. The demonstrators identify themselves as “revolutionaries” from eastern and western cities who have no political demands except to purge the new Cabinet of former regime members. (Fox News, Associated Press)

Libyan Oil Workers Vie for Regional vs. Central Control

Libya’s National Oil Corporation is reviewing a proposal for a Benghazi branch as officials contend with opposition by NOC staff in Tripoli versus protests and threats of output cuts by workers in the oil-rich east who want more control there. The NOC in early October issued a resolution to open a branch in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of 2011’s revolt against Muammar Gaddafi and where the country’s biggest oil company was the first to restart production. But workers at its Tripoli headquarters protested at the powers the branch would be granted. In a country where regional rivalries are rife, oil officials are now re-working “NOC Resolution 100”, which has stirred discontent by oil workers in the east, who want more authority in a region accounting for around 80 percent of Libya’s oil wealth. (Reuters)

Libyan Forces ‘Capture Ex-Gaddafi Bastion Bani Walid’

Libyan authorities say they have seized control of the western town of Bani Walid, a former stronghold of ex-leader Muammar Gaddafi. Pro-government forces, many of whom are from the rival town of Misrata, were shelling Bani Walid for several days. The clashes have forced hundreds of families to flee to neighbouring towns, according to the Red Cross in Tripoli. The government alleges that Bani Walid harbours a number of Gaddafi loyalists – a claim denied by the local militia. Authorities say all military operations have been halted, adding that troops will provide security and aid in the town, which lies about 140km (90 miles) south-east of Tripoli. (BBC)

Libya Singles Out Islamist as a Commander in Consulate Attack, Libyans Say

Libyan authorities have singled out Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the Benghazi-based Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah, as a commander in the attack that killed the American ambassador to Libya. (…) Witnesses at the scene of the attack on the American Mission in Benghazi have said they saw Mr. Abu Khattala leading the assault, and his personal involvement is the latest link between the attack and his brigade, Ansar al-Shariah, a puritanical militant group that wants to advance Islamic law in Libya. (…) But Mr. Abu Khattala’s exact role, or how much of the leadership he shared with others, is not yet clear. His leadership would not rule out participation or encouragement by militants connected to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an Algerian Islamic insurgency that adopted the name of Bin Laden’s group a few years ago to bolster its image, but has so far avoided attacks on Western interests. Like the other leaders of the brigade or fighters seen in the attack, Mr. Abu Khattala remains at large and has not yet been questioned. (New York Times)

Libya Promises ICC Gaddafi’s Son Will Get a Fair Trial

Libya can guarantee the son of its former dictator a fair trial, Libyan government lawyers said on 9 October at a hearing on whether Saif al-Islam Gaddafi should face justice at home or at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. ICC judges will rule whether Libya is capable of properly trying the man once seen as Gaddafi’s heir-apparent or whether it should extradite him to the Hague. If ICC judges rule Libya is unable to give Saif al-Islam a fair trial, the court has no power to force Libya to comply. But Libya would then be in violation of international law and the will of the United Nations Security Council. (Reuters Canada)

Tunisia

Tunisia Army, Police Deploy Near Islamist Hotspot

Tunisian troops and police deployed ahead of the main Muslim weekly prayers outside a flashpoint suburb of the capital on 2 November, just days after a deadly attack by Salafist militants on national guards posts. An AFP reporter saw army, police and National Guard vehicles and several dozen men on roads leading to the Douar Hicher quarter of Manouba, but they had not entered the area, which was calm. (…) On the night of 1 November, a Salafist imam declared war on Tunisia’s Islamist ruling party during a television talk show, with the interior minister countering that such talk was responsible for blood being shed. (…) He urged the country’s youth to prepare their burial shrouds to fight against Ennahda, brandishing a white cloth himself and saying Ennahda and other parties want elections held on the “ruins and the bodies of the Salafist movement.” (…) Religious Affairs Minister Nourredine el-Khadmi told a press conference that around 100 mosques in Tunisia were under the full control of Salafists. (AFP News)

Tunisian Secularists Protest against Islamist Rulers

Thousands of secularist protesters accused Tunisia’s Islamist government on 22 October of undermining a transition to democracy by failing to stem violence after a secular politician was killed in political violence in early October. Tension has been growing between Islamists and secularists since the Islamist Ennahda Movement won an election after the toppling of secular autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 in the first of the “Arab Spring” uprisings. A secular politician was killed on 18 October in clashes between secularists and a group of Islamists close to Ennahda in the town of Tataouine. (…) Tunisia’s opposition have said that the killing of Lofi Nakd, a member of the Nida Touns party in Tataouine, is the first political killing in Tunisia since the revolution. (…) While Islamists did not play a prominent role in the uprising, a struggle over the role of religion in government has since polarized politics in Tunisia, a country long been considered one of the Arab region’s most secular.

Tunisian Salafists Cut off Man’s Fingers for Selling Alcohol

Hardliner Salafists have reportedly cut off four fingers of an alcohol seller. Tunisian daily Al Sabah said that the attack occurred on 27 October in the governorate of Manouba, west of the Tunisian capital, Tunis. The attack followed heavy clashes between riot police and the Salafists who attacked alcohol vendors during the Eid Al Adha, the Islamic Feast of the Sacrifice. The commander of the National Guard in Manouba was seriously injured in the clashes and had to be treated at a hospital in Tunis, less than 20 kilometres away. (…) Members of the National Guard in four governorates decided to wear a red armband for three days to press for stringent punitive action by the government against the hardliner Salafists who have repeatedly attacked servicemen, Al Sabah said. Salafists oppose the sale of alcohol and have called for its ban in the North African country. (Gulf News, Al Sabah)

Algeria

U.S. and Algeria Discuss Ousting Mali Militants

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Algeria’s backing on 29 October for an emerging international effort to push Islamic militants out of northern Mali, in a meeting here with the president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. (…) After the meetings, American officials asserted that the Algerians’ and Americans’ political and military approaches to the crisis had begun to converge, but that more work was needed. (…) The support of Algeria, a regional power and neighbor of Mali, would be essential, diplomats say. Algeria, which waged a brutal war against militants in its own country, has one of the strongest militaries in the region and an active intelligence service. Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania have set up an intelligence center in the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset to coordinate efforts against Al Qaeda and other regional threats. (New York Times)

Algeria Pays Tribute to Ex-President Bendjedid

Algeria on 7 October paid tribute to former president Chadli Bendjedid, “father” of the country’s multiparty system, who died of cancer 20 years after leaving office. (…) Algeria has declared eight days of mourning for Bendjedid, 83, president from 1979 to 1992, who died on 6 October. His body was being kept at the People’s Palace, an official residence in Algiers, to allow officials and members of the public to pay tribute to the former head of state before the funeral. A portrait of the former president was placed in the centre of a large hall of the former residence of Ottoman-era governors of Algiers. Bendjedid’s funeral is to be held at the Martyrs’ Square of El Alia cemetery in the capital where his predecessors Houari Boumedienne, Ahmed Ben Bella and Mohamed Boudiaf are buried. The Algerian media have hailed the role of Bendjedid in introducing multiparty politics to Algeria, where the single-party rule of the National Liberation Front was ended in 1989. (AFP News)

Algeria Seizes 165 kgs of Cocaine from NZ

ALGERIAN police have seized a massive cocaine haul that came from New Zealand concealed in a container meant for powdered milk, a security official tells AFP. The 165 kilograms of cocaine represented one of the largest ever intercepted in the North African country, the security official said. It had been hidden away in the container for powdered milk which was imported by ONIL, a nationally owned company that dominates the Algerian market. Algeria said in 2011 that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, was reaping large profits from trade in cocaine, allowing them to firm up their presence in North Africa. The drug is distributed in Algeria but also exported to Europe. (The Australian News, AFP)

Algeria to Contribute 5 Billion USD to IMF

Algeria will contribute 5 billion U.S. dollars to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending by the purchase of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), the state-run APS news agency reported on 12 October, citing a statement of the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Algeria. (…) Since the beginning of 2012, the IMF has been seeking to increase by 500 billion dollars its loanable funds. In April, Algerian Finance Minister Karim Djoudi said the IMF had requested assistance from Algeria to strengthen its financial capacity. (…) The North African nation’s foreign-exchange reserves reached 193.7 billion dollars at the end of September, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal revealed when addressing members of parliament on 1 October. (NZ Week)

Morocco

Morocco ‘Dismantles Terrorist Cell’

Morocco says it has dismantled a terrorist cell that planned to set up a training camp in the Rif Mountains. The interior ministry said police had arrested nine suspects and seized several items, including black flags symbolising al-Qaeda. Officials said the nine were caught following the arrests of two “militant Salafists” near Rabat in October. (…) In the latest arrests, five of the nine were remanded in custody while the other four were taken for “further investigation” by judicial police, the interior ministry said in a statement.The statement said investigations had revealed a plot to install a training camp in the northern Rif Mountains “in order to carry out terrorist acts against public authorities”.It said the alleged cell members intended “to make explosives” and to take over “commercial premises in Sale to finance their criminal plans”.The ministry said the group had also set up a fake security checkpoint near the town of Ouazzane.

Morocco Expects First Gulf Aid Payouts in Early 2013

Morocco expects to receive early 2013 the first part of $2.5 billion in aid it was promised by wealthy Gulf Arab states, an advisor to King Mohammed said on 22 October. Cementing ties between Arab monarchies at a time of political turmoil, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait agreed in 2011 to disburse that sum to Morocco and the same amount to Jordan. Accompanying the king on a tour of the Gulf region, Yassir Zenagui said in an interview with Reuters that the trip had not so far resulted in new pledges of aid and that none were expected. (…) Foreign aid is important to Morocco, whose $90-billion economy is heavily exposed to the debt-scarred euro zone through trade, tourism revenues and migrant remittances. The country’s leadership is also anxious to avoid a drop in living standards, having largely been spared the political unrest that has toppled regimes in other parts of North Africa and the Middle East. (Reuters)

Morocco Denies Entry to Dutch ‘Abortion Ship’

Morocco blocked a Dutch “abortion ship” from entering one of its harbours on 4 October during a campaign group’s first attempt to visit to a Muslim country to raise awareness about safe methods of abortion. The Women on Waves ship, which already has visited traditionally Roman Catholic countries Spain, Portugal and Ireland at the invitation of local women’s groups, had planned to arrive at Smir, northern Morocco, but was denied entry. (…) The group, which was invited to Morocco by rights group Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI), wants to spread awareness on land about the use of pills for a medical abortion and said it would carry out abortions aboard the ship in international waters. (…) Like in other Muslim countries, abortion is illegal and punishable by up to 20 years in prison under Moroccan law, but hundreds of illegal abortions are carried out daily in clinics or using herbal medicines, sometimes resulting in death or injury. (National Post)

EAST AFRICA

Somalia

Somalia: Mass Kismayo Arrests of ‘Islamist Supporters’

Nearly 400 people have been arrested in a major security operation in the Somali port city of Kismayo. (…) A militia spokesman told the BBC those arrested were believed to be supporters of the Islamist al-Shabab group. Since al-Shabab’s withdrawal there have been frequent bombings in the city. (…) Abidnasir Serar, the spokesman of the Ras Kamboni militia, told the BBC Somali Service the operation began early in the morning. Residents say the city has been in complete lockdown for most of the day.Markets and schools were closed as the security forces went from place to place looking for those they suspected of supporting al-Shabab. (BBC)

Radio Dramatist’s Murder Raises Somalia Media Death Toll to 18

A renowed poet, musician and radio dramatist who used comedy as a weapon against Islamist militants has become the 18th media worker killed in Somalia – the second highest death toll in the world after Syria. Warsame Shire Awale, who was in his 60s, wrote and acted in comedy plays critical of al-Shabaab, the extremist group linked to al-Qaida, which he accused of twisting Islam to mislead people. His death follows the murder of another comic, Abdi Jeylani Malaq, better known as Marshale, in August. Both men worked at Radio Kulmiye in Mogadishu. Warsame was shot several times by unidentified men near his house in the Waberi district of Mogadishu on 29 October, the National Union of Somali Journalists said. He was taken to hospital where he was declared dead. (The Guardian)

Somalia’s General Farah Killed in Al-Shabab Ambush

A top Somali military commander has been killed in an ambush – the first general to be killed by the Islamists. Mohamed Ibrahim Farah, nicknamed “Gordon”, was killed near Merca, a strategic town captured from the al-Shabab militants in August. (…) The governor of the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia said General Farah was killed along with four other soldiers in an ambush on 28 October. Al-Shabab still manages to stage attacks in areas it has left, including in the capital, Mogadishu. (BBC)

Somalia: ‘Al-Shabab Weapons Seized in Puntland’

A large consignment of arms destined for suspected Islamist militants in north-eastern Somalia has been seized, a regional governor has told the BBC. Abdisamad Gallan said a boat said to have come from Yemen delivered sealed sacks full of land mines and artillery. Correspondents say this is one of the biggest seizures of al-Shabab weapons. The discovery was made after a tip-off from residents in Qandala, a coastal town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, Mr Gallan said. The al-Shabab group says it wants to strengthen its presence in Puntland. (…) Mr Gallan, the governor of Puntland’s Bari province, said it was believed that the boat had travelled from Yemen. The crew escaped on their boat before they could be questioned, but Qandala residents said they were foreigners. (BBC)

Somalia Facing Aid Shortfall after Al-Shabaab Bans Islamic Relief

Just over a week after its fighters abandoned their last major stronghold in southern Somalia, al-Shabaab have banned Muslim aid group Islamic Relief from the territory it controls, threatening programmes for more than a million people in an area where food and water shortages are still critical a year after famine. (…) In a statement on Twitter, al-Shabaab said it had officially revoked Islamic Relief’s permit to work in areas under its control – an ill-defined territory, the frontiers of which have become ever more fluid since the al-Qaida-linked militants pulled out of the port city of Kismayo on 28 September with Kenyan troops and their Somali allies closing in. British-registered Islamic Relief – funded by British and European donors, among others – was previously one of the few international organisations able to work directly in al-Shabaab territory. The militants, who have imposed a harsh form of sharia law in the areas they hold, are deeply hostile to western aid agencies, and angered locals by banning food aid in the south during last 2011’s drought, in which tens of thousands of Somalis died. (The Guardian)

Kenya

Kenya: Kisumu Anger after Politician Kwega Killed

Kenyan politician Shem Kwega has been killed and his wife wounded in a drive-by shooting in the western city of Kisumu. Mr Kwega was a close ally of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is running for the presidency, reports the BBC’s Karen Allen from the capital, Nairobi. Police later fired teargas to disperse protesters who claimed he had been assassinated, our reporter says. Tension has been mounting in Kenya ahead of elections due in March. More than 1,000 people were killed in violence that hit Kenya after the 2007 disputed presidential election. In mid-October, International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bansouda expressed concern about a culture of violence in Kenya during a visit to the country. The ICC has indicted several Kenyan politicians – including Deputy Prime Minister and presidential aspirant Uhuru Kenyatta – for allegedly fuelling ethnic conflict after the 2007 election. (BBC)

Union at Kenya’s port of Mombasa Calls off Strike

A union representing workers at Kenya’s main port of Mombasa called off a strike on 2 November after the management issued letters of employment to casual workers who were demanding permanent jobs. The strike, which was in its second day, had left loading and unloading at a standstill. Also on 2 November, a separate strike by workers demanding better pay halted operations by Kenya Ferry Services. The main gateway for East Africa’s trade, Mombasa handles imports such as fuel for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. Simon Sang, secretary general of the dock workers union, told workers the dispute had been resolved after most of their employment letters were signed. (…) Labor unrest has increased in east Africa’s biggest economy in 2012 following steep price increases and ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next March. Teachers, university lecturers and doctors have also staged strikes to demand better pay and working conditions. (Reuters)

Kenya Police Kill Two Terror Suspects in Mombasa

Kenya police shot dead on 28 October two terror suspects feared to be plotting attacks in the country’s popular coastal tourist city Mombasa. Shooting broke out when police raided a house in the Majengo suburbs of Mombasa, Kenya’s main port, after receiving a tip from a suspect arrested on 27 October. (…) Reuters reported that one of the suspects killed was a Muslim cleric suspected of having ties to Somalia’s al Shabaab militants. Police said a man arrested on 27 October carrying grenades on a bus to Mombasa had led them to the house. He was the second suspect killed by gunfire during the raid. (Reuters)

Ethiopia

Ethiopia Struggling to Host Somali Refugees Since Kenya Closed its Doors

Ethiopia is opening a sixth camp to host Somali refugees in Dollo Ado, which has become the world’s second largest refugee complex since Kenya suspended refugee registration amid rising insecurity. Ethiopia is now the main destination for Somali refugees in the region, hosting 214,000 people in the Dollo Ado and Jijiga camps near its arid southeastern border. (…) Kenya has traditionally been their main destination, and now hosts more than 530,000 Somali refugees, the majority in Dadaab complex near its northeastern border. (…) In 2012, Kenya has registered only 13,000 new arrivals, compared with Ethiopia’s 25,000. (Alert Net)

Ethiopia Muslims Rally on Fridays as Tension Rises

As midday prayers came to an end at the Grand Anwar mosque in Ethiopia’s capital, worshippers continued on to what has become a regular second act on Fridays — shouting anti-government slogans. The demonstrations on 2 November did not turn violent. But tensions are rising between the government in this mostly Christian country and Muslim worshippers. On 29 October, federal prosecutors charged a group of 29 Muslims with terrorism and working to establish an Islamic republic. (…) Protesters also accuse the government of unconstitutionally encouraging a moderate teaching of Islam called Al-Ahbash and dictating the election of community leaders to support it at an Addis Ababa religious conference. (Boston)

Uganda

Uganda Mulls Peacekeeping Missions after U.N. Congo Charges

Uganda will reassess its military and peacekeeping operations in regional hotspots, a government minister said on 25 October, after the United Nations accused it and neighboring Rwanda of backing Congolese rebels. A U.N. panel of experts said Uganda had sent troops to aid the insurgency in a deadly attack on U.N. peacekeepers and continued to support the so-called M23 rebel group commanded by Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). Ugandan soldiers account for more than a third of the more than 17,600 U.N.-mandated African peacekeepers battling al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in Somalia. Ugandan troops backed by U.S. Special Forces are leading the hunt for fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in Central African Republic, with some stationed in South Sudan. (…) In mid-October, the Ugandan government said it might cease mediating between the government Kinshasa and M23 rebels if the U.N. Security Council endorsed the report’s findings. (…) Uganda benefits financially from its military deployment in Somalia, while its soldiers gain experience in urban counter-insurgency warfare. Its troop presence in Somalia, South Sudan and CAR also give the Ugandan military an enhanced footprint across the region. (Reuters)

Uganda Faces Fresh Outbreak of Hemorrhagic Fever

Uganda is struggling to contain the spread of the deadly Marburg virus; just weeks after an outbreak of Ebola killed at least 16 people. In late October, health officials declared an outbreak of the rare and deadly Marburg virus, a type of hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola. Five people have died so far, six have been placed in isolation and over 150 more are being monitored for symptoms. One of the cases is being treated in the capital, Kampala. (…) The Marburg virus kills around 80 percent of those infected. It is highly contagious, and is spread through contact with bodily fluids. Symptoms of the virus include fever and headache, followed by a skin rash and, eventually, severe hemorrhaging. Because Marburg is so contagious, local authorities in Kabale district have banned public gatherings, including school graduation ceremonies. But Nakamatte says the Ministry’s advice is less extreme, calling on the public merely to exercise caution. (Voice of America)

Sudan

Iranian Warships Leave Sudan after Three-Day Stay

Two Iranian warships departed on 31 October from an eastern port in Sudan after a four-day stay which fueled speculations about military cooperation between the two countries less than a week after Khartoum accused Israel of bombing a Sudanese arms factory rumored to be linked to Tehran. The two vessels, supply and helicopter carrier Kharg and corvette Admiral Naghdi, docked in Port Sudan on 29 October as part of what both Iranian and Sudanese officials described as a “routine” visit. (…) The army spokesperson reiterated that the visit was not linked to the destruction of Al-Yarmook military factory in Southern Khartoum on 23 October, by what Sudan alleged was four Israeli fighter jets, telling Al-Arabiya satellite channel that the visit was planned two months ago. (…) Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it carried out the airstrike in the capital of the East Africa Muslim country which Tel Aviv accuses of channeling weapons to the Gaza Strip, controlled by Iran’s ally Hamas, via Egypt’s Sinai desert.

Sudan Rebels Shell Southern City during Defense Minister Visit

Sudanese rebels shelled the main city of the oil-producing South Kordofan state during a visit of Sudan’s defense minister, Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, rebels and residents said. (…) SPLM-North spokesman Arnu Lodi said the rebels had fired shells on army positions inside Kadugli on 26 October after coming under fire from government warplanes. (…) Residents said the shelling started when the defense minister, a close ally of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, was addressing worshippers during prayers marking Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice. (…) This was the fourth reported shelling of the state capital in October. The rebels first shelled Kadugli on October 8. At least one rocket hit a U.N. compound, prompting the United Nations to move its staff out of the town. Lodi, the rebels’ spokesman, also accused the army of bombing the rebel-held area of Kauda in South Kordofan. (…) Fighting in South Kordofan and nearby Blue Nile state has displaced or severely affected 900,000 people, the United Nations said in October. (Reuters)

South Sudan

South Sudan Resumes Oil Production

South Sudan ordered oil companies to restart production on 18 October and officials said oil export could resume in about 90 days, ending a nearly nine-month shutdown following a dispute with Sudan over borders and oil. (…) South Sudan inherited three-quarters of Sudan’s oil production when it declared independence in 2011. But the country lacks the infrastructure to refine or export its oil, and must pump it through pipelines running north to Port Sudan for export. In January, Juba accused Khartoum of stealing nearly all of its oil. Khartoum said it had taken the oil in lieu of unpaid fees for the use of its facilities. In signing and ratifying the Addis Ababa agreement, South Sudan has agreed to pay $9.10 and $11.00 per barrel for the pipelines operated by Dar Petroleum and the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, respectively. The production of oil could provide much needed relief for the economy of South Sudan. The government had imposed austerity measures in recent months to account for the loss of their oil revenue – which accounted for around 98 percent of the yearly budget. The South Sudanese Pound also fluctuated wildly in the wake of the shutdown, falling on the black market from around 3.5 pounds per dollar to around 5.5 in July. The rate has recently rebounded following news of the deal in Addis Ababa. (Associated Press)

South Sudan’s Vice President Dismisses Talk of Military Coup

South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar, dismissed on 19 October rumors of a planned military coup, saying it would be “unwise” for army officers to attempt a takeover of the year-old state. The speculation was serious enough to prompt South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to visit the headquarters of Sudan’s army (SPLA) to warn that any successful coup leaders would be isolated internationally, according to the Sudan Tribune. During a visit to New York to meet with potential investors, Machar laughed off the rumors of a coup as not a serious threat and said that a recently detained general had not been arrested for planning a coup, but for other issues. (…) Machar said the government was working to resolve a small two-year-old revolt in eastern Jonglei state that has been further fueled by a heavy-handed government bid to collect thousands of weapons left from the civil war. (Reuters)

CENTRAL AFRICA

Central African Republic

Central African Republic says Foils another Coup

Security forces in Central African Republic arrested three men suspected of plotting to overthrow President Francois Bozize, the country’s chief prosecutor said on 18 October. CAR is one of the world’s poorest and least stable countries, and the government of Bozize has claimed over the years to have uncovered several coup plans, including one in early 2012. (…) Tomo said one of the suspects is former Chadian army officer Job Nendobe Bergueba, who was hoarding a stash of automatic rifles, grenades and communications equipment at his residence. The three were arrested on 9 October. Bozize came to power in 2003 after leading a rebellion and he has since won elections broadly criticized as flawed. He sacked his finance minister in June after accusing him of plotting a separate putsch. Landlocked CAR has for years been plagued by rebel groups, and in September gunmen from the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army killed one of its soldiers in an ambush in the remote east of the country. (Reuters Canada)

Central Africa: Boost for Peace As Rebel Group Disbands

Preparations for the repatriation of 3,000 followers of a Chadian former rebel leader have started in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). If successful, the month-long operation will be an important step towards the return of peace and security in northern and north-central CAR. (…) Baba-Laddé, who once served in the Chadian police, arrived in CAR in 2008, taking advantage of the virtual lack of state security forces in the northwest. Based mainly in Ouandago Commune, his group, which included some local unemployed youths, was accused of committing atrocities against civilians. A 29 May 2012 report presented by the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA), said 22,000 people had been displaced by FPR. (All Africa)

Tanzania

Tanzanian Police Clash with Protesters over Arrested Cleric

Muslim protesters clashed with police in Tanzania’s commercial capital on 2 November during a protest over the arrest of a hardline Islamic cleric, witnesses said. Police fired tear gas and at least 30 people were arrested. Similar demonstrations have erupted sporadically over the last few weeks, raising religious tensions in the relatively stable and secular east African country. (…) Off the shores of Dar es Salaam, an Islamist separatist group in the semi-autonomous, mostly Muslim archipelago of Zanzibar has spearheaded protests after the group’s spiritual leader briefly disappeared in unknown circumstances. The unrest in Zanzibar mirrored similar discontent further up the Swahili coast where a Kenyan separatist group has called for the secession of Coast province that is home to large Muslim communities. The protests are a headache for the secular governments in Nairobi and Dodoma. The poor, Muslim coastal areas have proved a fertile recruitment ground for Somalia’s al Shabaab militants. (Reuters)

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Launches First Commuter Trains

The first-ever commuter train service in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, has been launched to ease congestion on roads. Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe boarded a train, along with passengers, for the maiden journey. The trains will run on two routes, mostly during peak hour. Private commuter minibuses, known as “daladalas”, are the main mode of transport in Dar es Salaam, one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. It is the first phase of a government scheme to improve the transport network in Dar es Salaam. The BBC’s Leonald Mubali in Dar es Salaam, which has a population of about 2.5 million, says many residents have welcomed the new railway service and hope that it will be expanded. One track covers a 25km (15.5 miles) journey between Dar es Salaam’s Mwakanga and Tazara railway stations and the second track runs for 20km (12.4 miles) between Ubungo-Maziwa and City railway stations. Trains will operate during the morning and evening – not in the afternoon and late at night. (BBC)

Tanzania Raises Natural Gas Reserve Estimates

Tanzania has raised its estimate of recoverable natural gas reserves to 33 trillion cubic feet (tcf) from 28.74 tcf following recent big discoveries offshore, an official said on 18 October. (…) Gas strikes off east Africa’s seaboard have led to predictions the region could become the world’s third-largest exporter of natural gas. The government said it hoped the gas finds would help to transform the country’s economy, which largely depends on farming, mining and tourism. Tanzania plans to restructure its state-run petroleum regulator and have in place a gas policy and legislation before the end of 2012 to help regulate its vast natural gas discoveries. (Reuters)

Malawi

Malawi ‘Refers Lake Border Dispute with Tanzania to AU’

Malawi’s President Joyce Banda has asked the African Union to intervene in the country’s border dispute with Tanzania, state media has reported. The southern African nation broke off talks with Tanzania in early October over the border on Lake Malawi, which is potentially rich in oil and gas. Malawi disputes Tanzania’s claim to half the lake – Africa’s third biggest. It has accused Tanzania of raising tension by allegedly intimidating Malawian fishermen on the lake. In 2011, Malawi awarded oil exploration licences to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in the lake, which Tanzania calls Lake Nyasa. (…) Mrs Banda asked the AU to help resolve the dispute in talks with its chairman, Benin’s President Yayi Boni, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation reports. After Malawi withdrew from the talks with Tanzania, Mrs Banda said she would refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice for a ruling. The neighbours have disagreed over their border since independence, but tension escalated in 2011 amid reports that the lake had vast oil and gas reserves. (BBC)

Malawi: Government Considers Controversial EU Trade Deal

Malawi has opened up negotiations on the economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union, which have been deadlocked since 2002. The new round of negotiations may see President Joyce Banda’s administration change the status quo and sign the free trade agreement. (…)The EU extended the deadline for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which includes Malawi, to negotiate the EPAs from 2014 to 2016. President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died after a heart attack in April, had refused to sign the agreement, demanding that rural roads, health and education facilities be taken care of before signing an EPA. Mutharika, a former U.N. trade expert, believed that the EPA would reinforce Malawi’s position as an exporter of low-value agriculture commodities, deprive government of policy space to use tariffs to protect livelihoods, and grow the manufacturing sector. But the new administration is reviewing all the arguments against the EPA, shifting focus on what the country stands to gain from the agreement. (All Africa)

Zambia

Zambia Government Seeks Foreign Investors

Zambia’s Commerce, Trade and Industry minister says the government has stepped up efforts to attract international investors to the country. Robert Sichinga said President Michael Sata’s government is implementing policies to create, encourage and protect a better environment for business investment. Sichinga recently visited the United States to meet business leaders as part of his country’s efforts to attract new investment to the Southern African country. (…) Sichinga said the government recently launched a series of promotional tours in the United States, including stops in Washington, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Houston as part of their efforts to attract investors. (…) Opposition groups have accused the government of using the investment promotion as a pretext to award contracts to political allies – charges Sichinga rejects.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s President Wants New Constitution Quickly Finalized to Bring an End to Coalition

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe urged lawmakers on 30 October to move “frantically and with haste” to finalize a new constitution so elections can be held to end a shaky coalition with the nation’s former opposition party. Mugabe, opening the last schedule of sittings of the Parliament in Harare before its five-year term expires in 2013, said he wants legislative business wound up so that fresh elections he proposed in March can bring closure to the coalition formed after the last disputed and violent polls in 2008. Reforms to the constitution demanded in the power sharing deal brokered by regional leaders needed to be urgently completed, he said. And if outstanding disputes between the parties were not resolved, the coalition’s leaders “will take appropriate steps” to break any deadlock, Mugabe said. He did not elaborate. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has proposed amendments to the new 150-page draft constitution that would restore some of the powers traditionally held by Mugabe and his party since independence in 1980. (Montreal Gazette, Associated Press)

Zimbabwe Outrage over Plan to Turn Robert Mugabe’s Home into Tourist Attraction

The government of Zimbabwe has sparked outrage by announcing controversial plans to turn Robert Mugabe’s home into a tourist attraction, local media reported on 18 October. The cash-strapped country’s cabinet reportedly hopes to spend several million pounds renovating a string of properties once owned by the tyrant and other nationalist leaders. Ministers are believed to have approved the controversial proposals under plans to boost tourism by doing more to promote the troubled state’s history. The New Zimbabwe website reported that Mugabe’s former home in the capital Harare was one of a handful due to be renovated under the scheme. (…)New Zimbabwe reported that Mugabe’s former home in the Harare suburb of Highfield would be renovated under the scheme, alongside others previously owned by other veterans of the struggle against colonial rule including the late opposition leader Joshua Nkomo and the former head of Mugabe’s ruling Zanu party Herbert Chitepo. It is believed ministers want to turn the properties into museums as part of a project inspired by the renovation of homes in neighbouring South Africa previously inhabited by leading members of the country’s struggle against apartheid. (Telegraph)

Swaziland

Swaziland: Political Crisis – Facts Remain Hidden

The political crisis in Swaziland continues into a third week after a vote of no-confidence in the Swazi Government was passed and then reversed 12 days later. According to the constitution, the government should have resigned or been sacked by King Mswati III after the first vote – but neither of these things happened. Instead, the government forced a revote which it won. There is no legal reason why the revote was allowed and for the constitution to be ignored. (…) It seems that he refused to accept the vote and this set in place a chain of events that led to it being overturned. (…) On 3 October, by a vote of 42 in favour and six against, the House of Assembly passed a no-confidence motion in the government – this was more than the three-fifths majority (39 votes) of the House membership needed to trigger the constitution. According to sections 68 and 134 of the Swaziland Constitution, the government had three days in which to resign. If it did not, the King was obliged by the constitution to sack the Prime Minister and the cabinet. (All Africa)

Lesotho

Lesotho Water Project Expansion Costs May Increase by 15%

The cost to extend a project that brings water to South Africa’s industrial hub from Lesotho has risen about 15 percent to 9 billion rand ($1.02 billion) from a December 2010 estimate, a South African official said on 23 October. The cost increase from about 7.8 billion rand comes after the South African and Lesotho governments approved the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in 2011. The extension includes construction of the 163.5-meter-high (536- foot) Polihali dam and a 38.2-kilometer (24-mile) tunnel linking it to Katse Dam. (…)Lesotho, a landlocked mountainous kingdom of 2 million people south of Johannesburg, has sold about 10 billion cubic meters of water to South Africa for 4.24 billion rand in royalty payments. The water is fed into the Vaal River system that supplies South Africa’s Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, the country’s largest city, and the capital Pretoria. A project management unit is being established that will help select companies to design and build the new dam and tunnels, Dlamini said. Project managers are also considering the viability of a 1,200-megawatt hydropower project that will entail building a 101-meter-high dam at Kobong and linking it to the Katse dam by a 6.3-kilometer tunnel, with electricity generated via a pump- storage facility. (Bloomberg)

Botswana

Botswana Court Allows Women to Inherit

In a landmark ruling Botswana’s High Court has overturned a customary law which prevents women from inheriting the family home. Local customary laws allowed only men to inherit, meaning women could be left homeless when their husbands or other male relatives died. On 12 October judge Key Dingake ruled that the law contravenes the constitution, which guarantees equality for men and women. (…) He also urged the government to take all discriminatory laws off the statute books. The case had been brought in 2007 by a group of sisters, all aged over 65, whose claim to family property is challenged by their 63-year-old nephew, and the High Court began hearing it in May. Two of the women were in court to greet the ruling with cheers and broad smiles. (ABC News, AFP News)

Mozambique

Mozambique Gas to Secure $50m

The World Bank plans to provide $50 million as concessional loan to fund studies and institutional strengthening for the natural gas sector development in Mozambique by June 2013, the bank told the media on 22 October in Maputo. With this funding World Bank wants to help Mozambique to create bases to make natural gas as a factor of economic and inclusive development. (…) Experts say that natural gas is a huge opportunity for revenue generation that in short-term can make Mozambique, a country with average income levels, from the current $580 per capita. The World Bank says this can only happen if the country takes full advantage of the resources available, by creating a favourable legal and institutional framework system. (The Citizen)

Mozambique’s President Sacks Second-in-Command Prime Minister

Mozambique President Armando Guebuza sacked his prime minister in a surprise cabinet reshuffle on 9 October, replacing his presumed political successor with the little-known governor of Tete province, home to a massive coal mining investment boom. Prime Minister Aires Aly had been the president’s second-in-command and was being groomed to succeed Guebuza as president in the 2014 election. But his aspirations were crushed when the southern African nation’s Frelimo ruling party ousted him from its powerful Political Committee in September. A government statement said Aly will be replaced by Alberto Vaquina, who has mainly overseen the multi-billion dollar coal rush in Tete, home to one of the world’s largest untapped coal and natural gas reserves. Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the reshuffle. Guebuza also replaced the tourism, education, youth and sports minister. (Times of India)

South Africa

South Africa’s Racial Income Inequality Persists, Census Shows

South Africa’s first census in a decade shows wealth disparities between race groups that persist 18 years after the end of apartheid. While incomes for black households increased an average 169 percent over 10 years, their annual earnings are 60,613 rand ($6,987), or a sixth of that for whites, Statistics South Africa said in a report released in Cape Town on 30 October. About 80 percent of South Africa’s 51.8 million population is black. (Bloomberg)

South Africa Miner Extends Deadline for Striking Workers

Platinum Ltd., the world’s largest producer of the metal, on 1 November postponed a deadline for more than 12,000 striking employees to return to their jobs, but workers demanded pay increases as a precondition for complying. (…) The offer came as police were investigating the shooting deaths of two striking mine workers on 31 October outside an operation owned by Forbes Coal & Manhattan Coal Corp. in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (…) Workers there went on strike in mid-October to demand higher wages. Police said they are carrying out tests on firearms owned by security personnel at the mine, who chased a group of 100 workers into the nearby squatter camp. Two of the protesters were shot and later died from their wounds. Forbes said it wouldn’t comment on whether security guards were responsible. The shootings raised the death toll in mining strikes in South Africa since August to more than 50 people. A group of 200 protesters blocked the main road near the Forbes coal mine on 1 November, according to Jay Naicker, a spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal police. They refused to disperse and police had to use tear gas to remove the crowd from the public road, he said. (Wall Street Journal)

WEST AFRICA

Ghana

Ghana: 5000 Soldiers to Police Polls

The Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Peter Augustine Blay, has asked Ghanaians not to be afraid about the eruption of violence during the December polls, and that the army was on high alert to deal with any troublemakers during the elections. According to him, about 5,000 soldiers would be deployed across the length and breadth of the country, and also secure the country’s borders to ensure peaceful elections. Augustine Blay was speaking in a meeting with President John Dramani Mahama, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, during his maiden visit to Burma Camp in Accra on 28 October. (…) In a related development, the Ghana News Agency reports that the National Commission on Small Arms and Light weapons (NACSA) has intensified campaign on public awareness and education against the proliferation and misuse of small arms and armed violence in all ten regions in Ghana. (All Africa)

Ghana Oil Heads for Record High on Profit Hope: Accra Mover

Ghana Oil Company Ltd. (GOIL), operator of the West African nation’s second-biggest network of gasoline stations, headed for the highest on record on speculation that profit increased in the nine months through September. The stock gained 1.7 percent to 60 pesewas as of 2:13 p.m. in the capital, Accra. A close at this level would be the highest since November 2007 when shares started trading on the Ghana Stock Exchange. (…) The company also introduced new products targeted at meeting the energy needs of consumers “that we are sure will increase revenue quite significantly,” Mensah said. (…) Net income increased 10 percent to 5.3 million cedis ($2.8 million) in the first half. Revenue increased to 407.1 million cedis from 324.4 million cedis a year before. (Bloomberg)

Cote d’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire: Facing Insecurity with Unreformed Army

Armed raids on military and police bases, a border post and other key installations in Côte d’Ivoire since August are deepening insecurity in a country struggling to forge a unified armed force to help restore stability after 2010-2011 electoral unrest. On the night of 14 October, armed men attacked a power station in the commercial capital Abidjan. Another gang hit a town in the east of the city where they tried to break into a police and paramilitary forces’ base. (…) Reforming the army, deeply divided by the conflict, is a key priority for Ouattara’s government, but there has been little progress since he took power in April 2011. The authorities blame exiled Gbagbo loyalists for the spate of attacks, an accusation the supporters of the former president deny, but many Gbagbo sympathizers have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the raids. (…) UNOCI estimates there are 60,000-80,000 former fighters who should be disarmed, but Côte d’Ivoire’s Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi says the number is much lower at 30,000. It is also estimated that 1-3 million arms are in circulation in the West African country. (IRIN News)

Cote d’Ivoire Opens Border with Ghana

On the morning of 8 October, Cote d’Ivoire announced the opening of its side of the border with Ghana after about three weeks’ closure, a top official from the Elubo Border Post told the GNA. He said at about 0600 hours, Ivorian officials at Noe came to announce the official opening of their side of the border to their Ghanaians counterparts at Elubo. The official said movement of vehicles and passengers between the two borders that came to a standstill had resumed. At the Jewi Wharf border near Half Assini, the authorities confirmed the open of the border. An official of the Customs Division of the Revenue Authority told the GNA that the Sector Commander at the Elubo had informed them of the opening of the border. (Ghana News Agency)

Liberia

Liberia’s Johnson Sirleaf Defiant over Nepotism and Corruption Claims

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, has dismissed allegations of corruption as rumours and innuendoes as she mounted a strong defence of her personal integrity. Johnson Sirleaf, in London for the UN high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda, acknowledged that corruption had become “systemic and endemic” in Liberia after decades of conflict, but challenged anyone to find fault with her or her family. Notwithstanding her achievements, Johnson Sirleaf has recently come under fire for nepotism, having appointed three of her sons to top government posts, although one of them, Charles, has been suspended as deputy governor of the central bank for failing to declare his assets. In October, Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian activist and joint winner with Johnson Sirleaf of 2011’s Nobel peace prize, resigned from the country’s peace and reconciliation commission, criticising the president’s decision to appoint her three sons to senior positions. Gbowee also criticised Johnson Sirleaf for not doing enough to address poverty. (…) The president said her government is reviewing land concessions and, where there had been unfair agreements, land would be returned to the community. But activists say this is mere window dressing and that the problem of unfair land deals is a direct result of the absence of a clear land tenure policy. (The Guardian)

Liberian Teachers Enter Second Week of Strike

In Liberia, teachers of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) in Monrovia have begun their second week of what they called a “go-slow action” to demand salary increases. The teachers are ignoring a plea from the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to return to their classes. The government said it will address the teachers’ demands early 2013, after it has purged the education payroll of so-called “ghost” teachers. (Voice of America)

Mali

Islamist Rebels Vow Assault on Malian Capital if International Forces Attack

Islamist rebels will attack Mali’s capital city if international military intervention is launched to regain control of the country’s north, a senior member of an insurgent group closely linked to al-Qaida has told the Guardian. Oumar Ould Hamaha, head of security for the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) claimed that rebels have recruited thousands of new fighters and warned that intervention would galvanise the international jihadist movement. (…) The defiant rhetoric from Mujao – which together with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar Dine control the northern two-thirds of Mali, including military bases, airports and several towns – came as US secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrived in Algeria to rally support for intervention. (…) The Mali government refused to comment on the status of its negotiations with the groups, but the head of the EU delegation in Mali said that negotiations were still considered a potential alternative to conflict in northern Mali. (The Guardian)

Mali Crisis: ‘Foreign Fighters Come to Help Islamists’

Foreign fighters have arrived in a town in northern Mali, Gao’s exiled mayor has told the BBC, confirming reports of an influx of jihadists to the north. Sadou Diallo said between 60 and 100 Algerians and Sahrawis had come into the town late October. (…) Mr Diallo told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme the foreign fighters were lightly armed and had arrived in Gao on 93 trucks. (…) Mr Diallo, Gao’s elected mayor who was speaking from the capital, Bamako, said that the Islamist group controlling the town – the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) – had also recruited 200 students from local Koranic schools. (…) He said Mujao paid them between $300 (about £190) and $400 a month. Earlier a security official told AFP news agency that hundreds of Sudanese and Sahrawi fighters had arrived in the region. A resident in Timbuktu told the agency on 22 October that “more than 150 Sudanese Islamists arrived in 48 hours”. (BBC)

Nigeria

Nigerian ‘Youths Executed’ in Boko Haram Stronghold

Dozens of young men have been shot dead in Nigeria by the military in Maiduguri, residents in the north-eastern city have told the BBC. An imam told the BBC about 11 youths from his street alone were killed, including four of his own sons. The alleged extrajudicial executions happened as Amnesty International accused the security forces of abuses in its crackdown on Islamist militants. A military spokesman in Maiduguri said he was not aware of the incident. (…) Maiduguri is the stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which is fighting to impose Islamic law across Nigeria. (…) Amnesty International said in a report on 1 November that the security forces have carried out widespread abuses in their campaign against the militants, killing, torturing and burning the houses of innocent civilians. Allegations were denied by the military.

Nigeria Church Bombing Sparks Reprisal Killings; Seven Killed, 100 Injured

A suicide bomber rammed an SUV loaded with explosives into a Catholic church holding Mass on 28 October in northern Nigeria, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 100 others in an attack that sparked reprisal killings in the city, authorities and witnesses said. As rescuers tried to reach the wounded in the Malali neighborhood of Kaduna, angry youths armed with machetes and clubs beat to death two Muslims passing by the still-smoldering ruins of St. Rita’s Catholic Church. An Associated Press reporter saw the men’s corpses outside the worship hall, as police and soldiers ordered those in the neighborhood of Christians and Muslims to go home before more violence broke out. The car bombing, the latest high-casualty attack targeting churches, comes as people fear more reprisal killings and religious violence could follow in this city and elsewhere along Nigeria’s uneasy religious fault line separating its largely Christian south from its predominantly Muslim north. (…) No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Muslims in the nation are celebrating the end of Eid al-Adha holiday in Nigeria. (National Post, Associated Press)

Nigerian Soldiers ‘Killed by Boko Haram’ in Potiskum

Several Nigerian soldiers have been killed by suspected Islamist militants in the north-eastern town of Potiskum (…) The town has seen days of violence, with 31 reported killed and hundreds of residents fleeing since 18 October. Meanwhile, China has lodged a diplomatic protest against the killing of a Chinese construction worker in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri. Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the government and impose Sharia law. On 19 October, the army said it had detained a senior commander of the group, Shuaibu Muhammed Bama, at a senator’s home in Maiduguri, which is where Boko Haram was founded. The claim has fuelled suspicion that politicians are helping the militants. (BBC)

Nigeria: ‘Oil-Gas Sector Mismanagement Costs Billions’

A leaked report into Nigeria’s oil and gas industry has revealed the extent of mismanagement and corruption that is costing billions of dollars each year. The report, seen by the BBC, was commissioned by the oil minister in the wake of 2012’s fuel protests to probe the financial side of the sector. It says $29bn (£18bn) was lost in the last decade in an apparent price-fixing scam involving the sale of natural gas. It also calculated the treasury loses $6bn a year because of oil theft. Nigeria is one of the world’s biggest oil producers but most of its people remain mired in poverty. (…) The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force report is one of several commissioned by the government – and follows an outcry after a parliamentary investigation uncovered a massive multi-billion fuel subsidy scam. That had been set up after angry nationwide protests in January when the government tried to remove a fuel subsidy. (…) The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, headed by former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, revealed in its report that losses of revenue to the treasury over apparent gas price-fixing involved dealings between Total, Eni and Shell and government officials. (…) The investigation showed that 40% of refined products – either refined in Nigeria or imported – currently being channelled through state-owned pipelines are lost to theft and sabotage. (BBC)

Senegal

Senegal’s Sall Replaces Interior, Foreign Ministers in Reshuffle

Senegalese President Macky Sall has fired his interior and foreign ministers in his first cabinet reshuffle since taking office in early 2012, the government announced on state television late on 29 October. Interior Minister Mbaye Ndiaye had come under heavy criticism for his handling of a riot by supporters of a jailed religious leader who smashed car windows, set fire to buses, and ransacked shops in the capital Dakar in late-October. He was replaced by retired general Pathe Seck. Sall also removed Alioune Badara Cisse as minister of foreign affairs, replacing him with Mankeur Ndiaye, a career diplomat who was Senegal’s ambassador to Paris. (…) Among other changes to the cabinet, which grew from 25 to 30 ministers, was the addition of Abdoul Latif Coulibaly, a well-known investigative journalist who was named minister for good governance and the new government spokesman. (Reuters Canada)

Togo

Togo Security Forces Fire Teargas on Opposition Protesters

Togo’s security forces fired teargas on several thousand opposition supporters to disperse a rally in the capital Lome on 5 October, injuring several people, organisers said. The Let’s Save Togo coalition of opposition and civil society groups has organised a series of recent rallies demanding major electoral reform and the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe. (…) Some youths set tyres on fire and attempted to set up barricades, but the security forces dispersed the march roughly 800 metres (2,600 feet) after its starting point in the Be area of Lome. Protest organisers and the authorities had not agreed on a route for the march beforehand and security services have fired teargas in previous similar cases. When the two sides have agreed a route, rallies have gone off without incident. The march was organised to mark the anniversary of a 1990 demonstration considered the first protest against the rule of General Gnassingbe Eyadema, the current president’s father who ruled the small West African nation with an iron fist from 1967 until his death in 2005.

 


As always, we’re eager to hear feedback on the usefulness of this service as well as your suggestions on improving it.

LDESP Staff
ldesp_staff@nps.edu

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