Uncertain presidential succession process in Angola heightens political risks in two-year outlook PGI Intelligence’s latest Insight report is now available on Angola’s presidential succesion. For more information about PGI Intelligence or to sign up for free access to the PGI’s online geopolitical tool, the Risk Portal, please visit www. riskportal.pgitl.com. President José Eduardo dos Santos’s […]
John Casson visits North Cairo court for women British Ambassador John Casson today visited a support centre in North Cairo court for women who have suffered violence, set up with assistance from the British Embassy in Cairo. Casson met Assistant Minister of Justice Counsellor Ghada el-Shehawy, the North Cairo court chief judge Mahmoud el-Rashidy and […]
Seychelles votes today 18th December in its Presidential Elections – James Michel v/s Wavel Ramkalawan The first round of the Seychelles Presidential elections that was held on the 5th December saw James Michel from the Parti Lepep (PL) with red as their campaign colour and Wavel Ramkalawan from the Seychelles National Party (SNP) with green […]
Madagascar’s plan to reform nationality law puts human rights record on good track Little explanation is needed to imagine the impact of Madagascar’s 2009 coup and resulting five year illegitimate rule on the country’s human rights. Perhaps most famously known in the west for its lemurs, vanilla export or animated films, the country plummeted into […]
Congo Brazzaville: Restraint needed as protesters clash with security forces AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL NEWS FLASH 20 October 2015 Congo Brazzaville: Restraint needed as protesters clash with security forces Spokespersons available for interview Security forces in the Republic of Congo must refrain from using excessive force against protesters, Amnesty International said today. Five people are reported […]
Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Gabon and Zambia’s Defence Forces to gather in Gaborone for African armoured vehicle community’s premier forum. African modernisation programmes and procurement initiatives are collectively valued at up to $20bn over the next decade for armoured and tactical vehicles. Armoured Vehicles Africa will offer an unrivalled opportunity to engage with the […]
New IRIN News Video: Schools in Liberia have begun to reopen for the first time in more than six months, due to the Ebola outbreak.
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, December 19, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The “Sahel” label covers a fluid space that defies classical geographic description and is characterised by the constant movement of people and goods, as well as the instability and violence that has marked recent years. Understanding this mobility and cross-border activity is vital for efforts to stabilise and develop the region.
A new Atlas produced by the Sahel and West Africa Club of the OECD ((http://www.oecd.org/csao) offers a different way of reading the Sahara-Sahel by analysing these transnational and regional flows. The Atlas of the Sahara-Sahel: Geography, Economics and Security features 150 maps that chart the complex movements of goods and people and zoom in on migratory movements, terrorist networks and attacks, illegal trafficking routes, as well as regional and international stabilisation efforts.
Read the Atlas: http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/agriculture-and-food/an-atlas-of-the-sahara-sahel_9789264222359-en#page1
“Our aim is to show that the Sahara-Sahel is not empty or without hope,” François-Xavier De Donnea, President of the Sahel and West Africa Club, said during the launch of the Atlas in Brussels. “The region is criss-crossed by roads with populations mostly made up of urban dwellers, whose settlements follow the pattern of trade and transit. With the right set-up and co-ordination of commercial and political incentives, the Sahara-Sahel could flourish.”
The Sahara-Sahel’s 17,000 km of borders do not so much hamper activity as drive it. Trafficking in gasoline and food capitalises on variations in exchange rates, taxation levels and national subsidies. Trafficking in black-market cigarettes, illegal drugs and weapons is widespread and developed on a regional scale.
The Atlas illustrates how terrorist groups seek to control strategic border areas or roads more than sections of national territories. Many groups have grafted themselves onto historical social networks, enabling them to strike from a distance. For example, many AQIM leaders operate through the extremely mobile Touareg and Arab tribes in the region.
Structurally fragile Sahelian countries face serious difficulties in controlling their vast territories and countering the development of these harmful elements. Their efforts are supported by a number of regional and international initiatives. A lasting peace must also rely on the co-operation of the different shores of the Sahara, North, Central and West Africa.
“The Sahara-Sahel area is a top priority for Africans in the Sub-Saharan and northern regions, for Europeans and for international partners,” said EU Special representative for the Sahel, Michel Reveyrand de Menthon. “This comprehensive Atlas makes clear the lengthy and complex timeline implicit in resolving the issues affecting the region.”
“Co-ordination of the regional and international players working in the Sahel is key to the success of the different initiatives for this region,” said the UN Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie. “The multitude of actors and interventions do not pose an obstacle but constitute an opportunity, on the condition that this surge in generosity be co-ordinated so as to respond to real needs identified by the states and people of this region.”
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of OECD.
For further information, please contact Julia Wanjiru (Julia.email@example.com, +33 627 216900)
Notes to the editors
The Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC)
The SWAC is the only international platform entirely dedicated to regional issues in West Africa. Its mission is to enhance the effectiveness of regional policies and of partner support. This is achieved by facilitating dialogue, information-sharing and consensus-building; providing independent, factual and forward-looking analysis; devising policy tools and guidelines. SWAC Members include three West African organisations (ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS) and seven OECD member countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States).
The Atlas focusses its analysis on 8 countries of the Sahara-Sahel: Algeria, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.
WASHINGTON, December 19, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi today to discuss the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship and developments within the region. The President affirmed …
Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana
NEW YORK, December 19, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General met today in Accra with H.E. Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Econo…
NEW YORK, December 18, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — African countries expressed strong support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the 13th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, the court’s founding document, African and international organizations present at the session said today. The governments showed a more positive picture of Africa’s relationship with the ICC than is often reflected in public debates, the organizations said.
The ICC’s Assembly of States Parties met from December 8-17, 2014, at the United Nations headquarters for its regular annual session. ICC members approved the court’s budget and elected six new judges to the court, in addition to discussing topics such as cooperation with the court.
“While a few vocal African governments are intent on portraying the ICC as anti-African and trying to undermine the court, the real picture is quite different,” said Esther Waweru of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. “Just ask the president of the Central African Republic, who expressed deep gratitude to the ICC for assisting her country in the wake of serious crimes there, and the many other African countries that took the floor in support of the ICC.”
This year the Assembly of States Parties elected the first African to be its president, Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba of Senegal. Kaba stressed Senegal’s “unwavering determination to defend the essential principles and values” of the ICC and made a commitment to reconcile the ICC with all regions of the world, including Africa. He pointed out that Africa has the largest number of ICC members and that Africans form a considerable percentage of ICC staff, including four judges and the prosecutor. He also noted that Africans have been the first to seek the court’s intervention.
More than a dozen African countries represented by senior government officials expressed strong support for the court’s work at the session. The president of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, affirmed the court’s role as a crucial tool in the fight against impunity, and said that the court was essential in delivering justice for victims of grave international crimes. Others included officials from Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zambia.
South Africa highlighted the ICC as a “bastion in the fight against impunity.” Ghana affirmed that it remains “committed to the importance” of the ICC to punishing and deterring crimes, and Nigeria indicated that the ICC is “increasingly becoming a critical global institution.” Côte d’Ivoire stressed the court’s “positive value” in prosecuting serious crimes, Sierra Leone highlighted its “deep commitment to the court,” and Lesotho called the ICC a “key instrument” in advancing justice. The Democratic Republic of Congo noted that the ICC is “a gift of hope” for future generations.
Ghana, Gambia, and Lesotho also affirmed the need to protect the court’s independence, which ran counter to Kenya’s unsuccessful initiative to have a special session at the meeting on the conduct of court officials in relation to current cases.
Zambia highlighted the role of African governments in requesting the ICC’s involvement, while other countries such as Nigeria conveyed their commitment to adopt laws to implement the ICC statute domestically and to cooperate with the court. Namibia, Burkina Faso, and Ghana urged other countries to join the court.
“With the general debate of the assembly’s 13th session, most African states showed strong support for the ICC,” said Aboubacry Mbodji of the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, based in Senegal. “A minority of African states remains hostile to the court, but civil society will continue to mobilize to bring them along to ensure the court is able to function with the full support that it needs.”
Kenya and Uganda, and to a lesser extent Tanzania, criticized the court in their interventions, while also expressing support. Kenya even indicated it would remain “a strong champion” of the ICC.
African ICC members also offered a group statement, delivered by Lesotho, which affirmed their “unwavering support” for the ICC and their “highest regard for the Rome Statute.” The statement also noted that the African Union’s calls for non-cooperation with the court “should not obscure the consistent, active backing for the ICC among African governments and civil society across the African continent.” The statement said that the AU’s concerns with the ICC relate in large part to Security Council action around the AU’s request to defer to the Darfur situation, and not to any action taken by the court itself.
At the same time, the African group statement reaffirmed the AU’s call for the court’s statute to be amended to include immunity before the court for sitting officials. Such immunity was included in the protocol to expand the regional African Court on Justice and Human Rights, which was adopted in July.
At the Assembly of States Parties session, a judge from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua, was elected to an ICC judgeship, along with five other judges from France, Germany, Hungary, South Korea, and Poland. The election of Mindua brings the total number of African judges at the ICC to five. The other African judges are from Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.
“Africans are playing a significant role at the ICC,” said Ibrahim Tommy of the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law in Sierra Leone. “In addition to an African prosecutor, we have five African judges and the president of the court’s assembly is now the Senegalese justice minister. This reflects strategic engagement by significant segments of Africa in the court’s important work.”
All of the court’s current investigations are of situations in Africa, which the court’s critics frequently raise. But the majority of the court’s situations came about as a result of requests by the specific country for the ICC to open an investigation. Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Uganda asked the ICC to investigate crimes. The UN Security Council referred Darfur, Sudan, and Libya to the ICC. The Office of the Prosecutor acted solely on its own initiative in only one situation: Kenya.
At the same time, the Security Council has allowed political considerations to affect its decisions on referring situations to the court arising in countries that are not ICC members. This undermines the cause of justice and should be addressed by more universal ratification of the court’s treaty, which allows the court to exercise its authority without the Security Council, and more consistent action in support of justice by the council, the organizations said.
Nongovernmental groups from Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia were present for the session. Ahead of the session, African groups and international organizations with a presence in Africa, the Coalition for the ICC, International Federation for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch issued recommendations to African ICC countries for the session.
“Justice – and not immunity – when serious crimes are committed is central to democratic societies,” said Timothy Mtambo of Malawi’s Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation. “We have asked our leaders to remain true to the ICC’s Rome Statute and other instruments they ascribe to.”
1. On December 16, the Government of Japan decided to extend emergency grant aid of approximately 640,000 U.S. dollars (approximately 76.4 million Japanese yen) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in order to support the smooth implementation of the presidential by-election