Africa Update OCTOBER 22, 2015
On October 17th, members of the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council urged all Libyan parties to endorse and sign the recently finalized political agreement for the creation of a Government of National Accord. The Security Council reiterated the agreement offers a real prospect for resolving Libya’s political, security, and institutional challenges. It also noted the Libya Sanctions Committee is prepared to designate those who threaten Libya’s peace, stability, and security or who undermine the successful completion of its political transition.
On October 19th, the Foreign Ministers of Algeria, France, Germany, Morocco, Qatar, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (U.S) and the United States (U.S.), as well as the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs, called on all parties to the Libyan Political Dialogue to immediately approve the political agreement brokered by U.N. Special Representative for Libya Bernardino Leon following the meetings of the parities in Skhirat and Geneva. The leaders noted the parties could delay approval of the text and annexes beyond October 20th or attempt to make further amendments, but this may put the stability of the country at risk.
On October 20th, warplanes from Libya’s internationally recognized government bombed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Sirte, which has become a stronghold for the terrorist group in the wake of Libya’s civil ware. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage caused by the airstrikes.
On October 21st, U.N. Special Representative for Libya Bernardino Leon said the effort towards forming a unity government in Libya will continue. His comments come after the Speaker of Libya’s House of Representatives (HOR) announced a rejection of the agreement, despite the fact that some parties said the body had not voted on the U.N.-backed deal. Special Representative Leon said there will be no chance for small groups or personalities to hijack the peace process.
On October 16th, four women suicide bombers blew themselves up when challenged by soldiers as they tried to enter Maiduguri, Nigeria, a city known as the birthplace of Boko Haram, killing at least 18 civilians. This attack occurred just hours after another bombing at a nearby mosque that killed 30 people and wounded 20 more.
On October 16th, Defense One reported that Boko Haram has changed its tactics in response to more direct military action against the group. Prior to the military surge, Boko Haram was reportedly using advanced weapons systems to conquer and control large territories. However, since March, Boko Haram fighters have shifted to a more asymmetric strategy, including the prevalent use of suicide bombers.
On October 21st, two Nigerien soldiers were killed in the Diffa region of Niger in a suspected Boko Haram suicide bombing. Three other soldiers were wounded. The incident occurred when four attackers attempted to enter the town and were intercepted by security forces.
On October 22nd, eight villagers in northern Cameroon were killed and another nine wounded in a raid by Boko Haram militants that was followed by a gun battle between extremists and security forces. It was not immediately clear how many Boko Haram fighters were killed in the clashes in Doulo.
On October 15th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the recent killing of nine civilians and two police officers in Bujumbura, Burundi. The attacks are thought to be linked to the political unrest in the country following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial reelection for a third term. Secretary-General Ban called for an investigation into the circumstances and motivations behind these crimes in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.
On October 19th, the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council recommended the organization speed up plans to deploy troops to Burundi should violence in the country worsen. Further, the Council called for investigations into reports of human rights abuses in Burundi, and suggested the AU consider imposing sanctions against anyone who contributes to instability in the country.
On October 21st, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson John Kirby welcomed the AU’s decision to expand their monitoring of the human rights and the security situation in Burundi. He noted the State Department remains concerned by human rights abuses and ongoing violence in the country and expressed support for the AU’s conviction that the peaceful way forward for Burundi must start with the convening of an inclusive, regionally mediated dialogue consistent with the Arusha Agreement to take place outside of Burundi.
On October 22nd, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Frederica Mogherini indicated she will send a letter to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza next week inviting him to talks to be held in Brussels, Belgium intended to achieve a solution to the political crisis in the country. Noting the conflict in Burundi has left more than 120 people dead, Mogherini outlined a 150-day consultation process that will allow Burundian officials to present to EU leaders on their government programs, democratic principles, and human rights and governance policies.
Central African Republic
On October 18th, the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) (MINUSCA) reported seven U.N. police were ambushed and illegally detained by armed anti-Balaka elements near Bangui. While the police were ultimately freed by their captors, they were released without their equipment and weapons. Following the abductions, a MINUSCA position in Damara also came under fire by unidentified armed men, with peacekeepers returning fire, killing one attacker, and seizing weapons.
On October 20th, the U.N. Security Council expressed concern about the upsurge in violence and instability in the CAR, including reports of attacks against civilians, intercommunal violence, targeted violence against women and children, lootings of humanitarian premises, and attacks against U.N. peacekeepers. The Security Council reiterated its decision to apply an asset freeze and travel ban to those engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine peace and stability, as well as its support for the transitional authorities led by President Catherine Samba-Panza.
On October 20th, the U.S. Department of State commended the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for selecting former Botswanan President Festus Mogae as Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (MEC) for South Sudan. President Mogae will lead a group of international experts responsible for overseeing and supporting the implementation of all aspects of the South Sudan Peace Agreement. Additionally, the State Department noted U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth will continue to remain deeply involved in the peace process.
On October 22nd, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that as many as 3.9 million people now face food insecurity in South Sudan as a result of the civil war that began in December 2013. The U.N. called on all parties to the conflict to grant urgent and unrestricted access to Unity State in particular, where at least 30,000 people are living in extreme conditions and facing starvation and death.
On October 18th, Egypt held the first round of voting in its parliamentary elections. While President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi has hailed the vote as a major milestone on Egypt’s road to democracy, election observers reported voter turnout was just ten percent. Due to the absence of opposition parties, and notably the Muslim Brotherhood, candidates loyal to President Sisi are expected to dominate Egypt’s 596-member parliament following a second round of voting held on December 2nd.
On October 17th, Guinea’s electoral commission (CENI) announced the results of the first round of voting in the country’s presidential election. Incumbent President Alpha Conde was reelected with 57.85 percent of the vote, while opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, who has called for protests over the elections because of fraud and mismanagement, was reported to have won 31.44 percent of the vote. If the election results are confirmed by Guinea’s constitutional court, the margin will allow President Conde to avoid a runoff.
On October 22nd, Amnesty International reported security forces in Guinea killed three people in the lead up to the recent presidential election. According to the human rights group, security forces shot two unarmed people in the back and beat another person to death. Further, Amnesty argued there was no justification for firing at these unarmed people and no excuse for failing to hold those suspected of criminal responsibility to account.
On October 19th, student protests over fee increases at Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town (UCT), and the University of the Witwatersran (Wits) in South Africa resulted in classes being suspended at all three institutions. Over the past several months, demonstrations have become more common with students arguing that the 10.5 percent higher fees proposed for 2016 will force poor black students out of the education system.
On October 20th, South African Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande held talks with Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib and UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price, in addition to other vice chancellors, university council chairs, students, and workers, to find a solution to ease tensions over prepared fee hikes. The meeting was held as protests at higher education institutions in South Africa continued and as 23 students were arrested.
On October 21st, South African university students marched on parliament to show their opposition to planned tuition hikes as Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene addressed lawmakers. In response, South African riot police fired stun grenades at the students. Meanwhile, Minister Nene said the disruption of parliament by the students was not constructive.
On October 21st, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson John Kirby expressed concern regarding reports that South African police fired stun grenades at students protesting against higher tuition. Spokesperson Kirby noted the State Department is monitoring the situation and maintains its position that the right to peaceful protest should be protected.
On October 22nd, South African President Jacob Zuma said he would meet with student leaders and university authorities on Friday to discuss planned increases to tuition fees that have sparked a week of nationwide protests. Addressing the planned fee increase for the first time publically, President Zuma said no one disagrees with the message that students from poor households are facing financial difficulties and possible exclusion.
On October 22nd, 29 South Africans were charged with public violence after South African riot police clashed with students who were demonstrating outside of parliament in Cape Town over higher tuition fees. The recent protests have been described as the largest student protests in the country since the end of apartheid in 1994.
West Africa Ebola Outbreak
On October 15th, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited new research finding the Ebola virus can persist in the eye, semen, the placenta, breast milk, and central nervous system of survivors of the disease for as long as nine and a half months. The WHO indicated this initial study, which focused primarily on the presence of Ebola in semen, will now be widened to examine the viral persistence of Ebola in other bodily fluids in both men and women.
On October 16th, the WHO reported two new confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, after recently reporting two consecutive weeks of zero new cases. According to the WHO, one case was located in Forecariah and is believed to be linked to a previously known chain of infection. The second new case was located in Conakry.
On October 20th, Dr. Sakoba Keita, the national coordinator of Guinea’s Ebola response effort, discussed the government’s efforts to coordinate with traditional healers to battle the virus. While many traditional healers died early on in the Ebola outbreak from treating patients, Dr. Keita noted the government has since trained more than 1,500 traditional healers in measures of prevention and detection of Ebola cases.
On October 21st, the WHO updated its statistics on the number of Ebola cases in West Africa. For the week ending on October 18th, three new confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in Guinea, which had reported zero cases for the previous two weeks. Of the three new cases, one was reported in Conakry and two were reported in Forecariah. Generally, the WHO observed case incidence has remained at five confirmed cases or fewer for 12 consecutive weeks, and transmission of the virus has been geographically confined to small areas in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
On October 21st, doctors treating Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who contracted and initially recovered from Ebola and then suffered a relapse, reported she now has meningitis caused by the virus in her brain. Medical professionals clarified Cafferkey was not re-infected and said the virus had persisted in her body since her initial recovery. Cafferkey remains hospitalized for treatment.
On October 21st, after receiving a report on Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey’s health following a relapse of Ebola after her recovery, doctors and health officials in Sierra Leone expressed concern that a handful of mystery deaths among discharged patients may also be Ebola relapses. Further, doctors speculated this could mean the virus lasts longer in the body than previously thought.
African Migrant Crisis in the Mediterranean
On October 21st, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres convened a pledging conference to tally support for Somalia by creating conditions for the voluntary return of refugees. More than two million Somalis remain displaced in the region in a refugee situation that has been going on for 23 years. Further, Somalis are among the top ten nationalities among those seeking refuge in Europe.
On October 21st, EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini called for greater respect for human rights in Eritrea, a major source country of refugees who risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), 5,000 people flee Eritrea each month, due primarily to indefinite military conscription and other human rights abuses.
United States – Africa Relations
On October 20th, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Linda Etim to serve as a Member of the Board of Directors for the African Development Foundation. Etim currently serves as Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
On October 21st, President Barack Obama notified Congress of his decision to extend the national emergency with respect to the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared on October 27, 2006. President Obama noted the situation in the DRC has been marked by widespread violence and atrocities that continue to threaten regional stability, which poses an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the U.S. President Obama’s message to Congress can be read here.
On October 15th-16th, U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins was on overseas travel to Freetown, Sierra Leone to attend a meeting hosted by the African Society for Laboratory Safety and the WHO Regional Office for Africa. The meeting brought together partners to initiate and build consensus around an inclusive roadmap framework for the implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) across Africa. Ambassador Jenkins provided opening remarks on the GHSA and the importance of that agenda to strengthen health systems in Africa.
On October 16th, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli met with U.S. Ambassador-designate to Togo David Gilmour at the Department of State.
On October 16th, State Department Counselor Tom Shannon officiated the swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to the CAR Jeffrey Hawkins. The ceremony, which was held at the State Department, was included on the agency’s daily appointment schedule.
On October 16th, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby welcomed the news of the Ethiopian Federal High Court’s acquittal of four of the Zone 9 bloggers of terrorism charges and its affirmation of their constitutional right to freedom of expression. The State Department noted this is a step in the right direction in creating space for media, civil society organizations, and independent voices and views, which are crucial for democratic progress, development, and economic growth.
On October 18th-24th, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall was on overseas travel to the DRC. While in the DRC, Under Secretary Sewall met with government officials, the opposition, civil society, youth, and community leaders to discuss bilateral and regional issues, including the need to ensure timely, credible, and peaceful elections, combat sexual and gender-based violence, strengthen rule of law, and the end the suspension of exit visas for internationally adopted children. Shen then traveled to eastern Congo to meet with local government officials, civil society, community leaders, legal aid and health providers, and representatives of the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). Under Secretary Sewall was also scheduled to visit the Vulnerable Children and Youth Training Center to meet with survivors of gender-based violence.
On October 19th-24th, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) Coordinator Macon Phillips traveled to Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town, South Africa. In Johannesburg, Coordinator Phillips visited the Rosa Parks Library in Soweto, where he joined members of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network in an online course on the “Fundamentals of Starting and Running a Business.” He also discussed digital media strategy and opportunities with partners to the U.S. Mission in South Africa and met with prominent online journalists and social media influences. Coordinator Phillips then traveled on to Pretoria where he kicked off the YALI TechCamp and launched on online course on climate change. Coordinator Phillips then departed for Cape Town for the grand opening of the American Corner, an in-person public engagement space, and meetings with 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows.
On October 20th, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield met with Ghana National Patriotic Party Presidential Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo at the Department of State.
On October 20th, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby condemned the violence in the Republic of Congo (ROC) related to a proposed October 25th constitutional referendum and urged all parties to immediately exercise restraint. At the time of his daily press briefing, Spokesperson Kirby reported two confirmed deaths, reports of more, and dozens of injured. He encouraged opposing sides to come together in dialogue to defuse the situation urged President Denis Sassou Nguesso to postpone the referendum to allow for dialogue and discussion.
U.S. Agency for International Development
On October 19th, USAID and its partners released a new report showing an almost 50 percent reduction in maternal deaths in target facilities in Uganda and Zambia in two and a half years. The Saving Mothers, Giving Life Initiative also resulted in an 81 percent increase in the number of women receiving treatment to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS to their infants in Zambia and a 29 percent and 37 percent decline in perinatal mortality and stillbirths, respectively. Additionally, the number of women giving birth in a facility rose by 30 percent in Uganda.
On October 21st, USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab announced $14.1 million in new grants to 32 organizations through its Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program to source, test, and scale, innovative development ideas expected to deliver results in fighting poverty. Among the awardees was Agriworks Uganda, which will provide innovative irrigation products and solutions to small scale farmers, AMPATH: Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, which will link prize earnings with insurance products to incentivize health insurance adoption among low income earners, and APOPO, which will use trained African Giant Pouched Rats for rapid and cost-effective detection of tuberculosis in prisons in Tanzania and Mozambique.
On October 22nd, USAID head of communications for Power Africa Rudy Gharib authored a blog post to recognize World Energy Day. Gharib noted in Africa alone, about 60 million homes and businesses are poised to access power for the first time in the coming years. He also discussed how Power Africa has helped to bring more affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern forms of energy to users once reliant on kerosene, diesel, and disposable batteries.
Department of Defense
On October 19th, Marine Forces Europe and Africa highlighted a training recently conducted for the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF) and members of the French Gendarmerie focused on restoring order and professional intervention. The training taught skills to support SPMAGTF-CR-AF’s crisis response mission at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
On October 19th, the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) highlighted a recent workshop that was held for U.S. Navy technicians and members of the Djibouti Armed Forces (FAD) to learn how to use the iRobot 150 Packbot. The technology will provide the FAD with the capability to safely search for and inspect explosive devices and mines. The robot can be used to check vehicles, clear routes and buildings, and enter confined spaces.
Department of Justice
On October 15th, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Spokesperson Marc Raimondi announced, following a meeting last month between U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lunch and Chief Scottish Prosecutor Frank Mulholland, two new, unnamed Libyans have been identified as suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing. U.S. and Scottish authorities have since informed Libya they want to send investigators to Libya to interview the suspects.
On October 16th, Ahmed Abu Khattala, the man charged with leading the September 2012 attacks against U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, made his first court appearance in the U.S. since January to challenge the constitutionality of his seizure and interrogation by U.S. authorities. Last year, Abu Khattala pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, conspiracy, and destroying a U.S. facility.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On October 20th, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) issued the latest edition of its agency newsletter. The most recent update highlights the launch of the first phase of USTDA’s Procurement Assistance Program in Ethiopia under the Agency’s Global Procurement Initiative: Understanding Best Value (GPI) and promotes the upcoming Nigeria and Kenya Health Care Technologies Reverse Trade Mission (RTM), scheduled for November 9th-20th.
On October 21st, USTDA announced the City of Johannesburg, South Africa is set to release a tender for a 3 megawatt (MW) in-pipe hydropower scheme, specifically the installation of hydroelectric turbines in its bulk water reticulation system. The turbines could generate up to ten percent of the energy required to power Johannesburg’s city water utility.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
On October 16th, in honor of World Food Day, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) highlighted agribusiness entrepreneurs, including Madina Namanda, the owner and operator of a successful wholesale, commercial pineapple plantation in Uganda. The plantation has received financing from FINCA International and facilitated by OPIC, which has helped enhance local livelihoods and the wealth of communities.
On October 20th, in conjunction with Secretary of State John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum, OPIC issued a fact sheet highlighting how it has helped advanced the use of renewable energy around the world. The fact sheet notes that over the past five years, OPIC has supported more than 85 renewable energy projects across the developing world, including a geothermal project that expanded Kenya’s total generating capacity by 5 percent and a number of off grid and utility scale projects through the Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative.
On October 20th, as part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum, OPIC signed an agreement with U.S.-based energy developer SolarReserve and Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power recognizing OPIC’s $400 million commitment of debt financing to support the development of the Redstone Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project in Northern Cape, South Africa. The Redstone project is a 100 MW clean energy facility that will be connected to the South African national grid.
On October 21st, OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield moderated a panel on “Clean Energy Transformation” as part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum. During the panel, President Littlefield said that Africa added more renewable energy in 2014 than the previous 14 years combined. Additionally, she noted there are currently more diesel generators than people in Nigeria.
On October 21st, as part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum, OPIC signed an agreement recognizing a $15 million commitment to financing Txtlight Power Solutions, Ltd. doing business as Nova-Lumos, an off-grid electricity provider, to scale up a business that provides solar electricity to homes and small businesses throughout Nigeria. With OPIC financing, Lumos will be able to increase power access to the nearly 90 million Nigerians who currently live without connection to the electric grid.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
On October 15th, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Bohn authored a blog post on his recent visit to Lusaka, Zambia. While in Zambia, Vice President Bohn joined Secretary to the Treasury of Zambia Fredson Yamba at a contract signing ceremony for two construction projects to improve Lusaka’s Bombay Drain with the goal of improving the city’s drainage, water supply, and sanitation. MCC’s $355 million compact with Zambia is designed to address clean water and sanitation and good health.
On October 15th, Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) a letter responding to efforts by Republicans to inaccurately inflate the number of interviews conducted by the Select Committee in order to defend against repeated admissions from their own party that Republicans have used millions of taxpayer dollars to damage former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.
On October 15th, Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Elijah Cummings (D-MD) responded to Congressman Richard Hanna’s (R-NY) acknowledgement that the Committee is a taxpayer funded political attack targeting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Congressman Cummings said the admission shows it is time for Republicans to stop defending the indefensible and stop using millions of taxpayer dollars for the illegitimate purpose of trying to damage Secretary Clinton’s presidential bid.
On October 16th, Huma Abedin, an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi in a closed session. According to the Committee, Abedin was asked about the events leading up to, during, and after the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and the Administration’s response to congressional inquiries into the attacks.
On October 18th, House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) responded to a letter from Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) questioning Committee Republican’s investigative effort. Congressman Gowdy also released a redacted email called into question by Committee Democrats.
On October 19th, Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued a staff report titled, “Results of Interviews Conducted by the House Select Committee on Benghazi: No Evidence to Support Top Republican Allegations about Hillary Clinton.
On October 19th, Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) expressed concern after South Africa missed an October 15th deadline to allow U.S. poultry exports to South Africa to resume and urged South Africa to act immediately. Senators Carper, Coons, and Isakson also said this inaction must be factored into the out-of-cycle review of South Africa’s eligibility for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits.
On October 19th, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) announced his fourth annual Opportunity: Africa conference, to be held in Wilmington, Delaware on November 6th. This year’s conference will provide key insights into Africa’s challenges and possibilities, including expanding entrepreneurship, increasing access to electricity, implementing lessons learned through the Ebola pandemic, supporting African farming, and protecting political rights while combatting violent extremism. This year’s keynote speakers will be international businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa and former U.S. Ambassador to the AU Reuben Brigety.
On October 20th, House Select Committee on Benghazi Democrats refuted claims from Committee Republicans that no congressional committees have ever had access to any of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens’ emails. Democrats argued Congress has had access to many of Ambassador Stevens’ emails for years, and while some additional emails have been produced, none of them change the fact that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not involved in responding to requests for additional security in Benghazi.
On October 20th, House Select Committee on Benghazi Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) urging him to release the full transcript of the Committee’s interview with Sidney Blumenthal, who served as an advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the September 2012 attacks on U.S. interests in Benghazi, Libya. Congressman Cummings said the release of the transcript will correct the public record.
On October 21st, Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi released the full transcript of the Committee’s interview with former State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills after accusing Republicans of making out-of-context and misleading leaks. According to Democrats, the transcript includes no evidence to support claims that Secretary Clinton ordered the military to stand down in Benghazi.
On October 22nd, the House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “Africa’s Great Lakes Region: A Security, Political, and Humanitarian Challenge.” The Subcommittee received testimony from Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Thomas Perriello.
On October 22nd, the House Select Committee on Benghazi held a hearing to receive testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya.
On October 22nd, House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA) issued her biweekly Africa Update. Congresswoman Bass’ latest newsletter highlights South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s recent creation of 18 new states, positive trends in the fight against Ebola, and an agreement between Ethiopia and Djibouti to construct a new pipeline.
On October 16th, the Libyan Government in Tripoli named the two new Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing investigations as Adullah al-Senussi, the former spy chief under Muammar Gaddafi, and Mohammed Abu Ejaila, a known bomb maker. Senussi is currently being held in jail in Tripoli, where he is serving a sentence for his role in the deaths of protestors in the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi. Limited information was available on Ejaila.
On October 19th, the National Security Network hosted a press call with former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet titled, “Getting the Facts on Benghazi.” The discussion was intended to provide background information to promote understanding of the timeline and consequences of the September 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
On October 21st, Sudan began releasing food rations and other supplies for international peacekeepers operating in the Darfur region. While aid has started to be distributed, the U.N. said more than 200 shipping containers have yet to be cleared in Khartoum. The U.N. has previously accused the Sudanese Government of withholding the supplies from the U.N.-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), making it difficult for nearly 20,000 peacekeepers to do their jobs.
On October 15th, BBC News reported that British firm Gamma Group sold surveillance technology to Uganda that has been used to blackmail the political opposition. The Ugandan Government denied such an operation exists, while Gamma Group said it does not assist or encourage any government agency in the misuse of its products.
On October 16th, four Ethiopian bloggers with the Zone 9 website were acquitted of terrorism charges after 18 months in jail. The bloggers were accused of planning attacks and collaborating with U.S.-based opposition group Ginbo 7, which was labeled a terrorist group by the Ethiopian Government. Three of the journalists, Atnaf Berhane, Abel Wabella, and Natnail Feleke, were freed from custody on Friday, while the remaining blogger, Befekadu Hailu, remained in custody on additional charges of inciting violence.
On October 16th, as it was due to air in the U.S., the Tanzanian Government criticized “The Boy from Geita” documentary. The film follows the story of an albino child attacked for his body parts, which are highly prized by witch doctors. Tanzanian officials said the film is sensational, inaccurate, and ignores the government’s efforts to stop attacks on albinos in the country.
On October 17th, Daily Nation reported that the performance of Kenya’s tourism industry has lagged behind other countries in recent years, despite having better prices and a more competitive economy than its neighbors. While Kenya is the fifth most popular tourist destination on the continent, the growth rate of the country’s tourism sector was below the world’s average, which improved seven times as fast as Kenya.
On October 19th, researchers in the Horn of Africa reported the region has been consistently drying up over the past 2,000 years. While geopolitical power struggles over the past 150 years have contributed, in part, to food scarcity during longer and drier seasons, scientists claimed climate and temperature changes, as well as the rise of carbon emissions, have been the leading contributors to drier conditions over the past 50 years.
On October 20th, Google agreed to buy a 12.5 percent stake in Kenya’s Lake Turkana wind power project from Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems. According to Vestas, Google will purchase the stake for an undisclosed amount once the project is completed in 2017. The 310 MW Lake Turkana wind park is expected to produce 1.4 terawatt hours of electricity a year, the equivalent of about 15 percent of Kenya’s electricity needs.
On October 21st, in a move designed to address revenue shortfalls, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a lifestyle audit of all Kenya Revenue Authority staff whose actions are thought to have significantly reduced government revenue. President Kenyatta also directed the Treasury to monitor daily revenue collection and clearance of cargo at the port of Mombasa.
On October 22nd, Tanzanian presidential candidate John Magufuli told supporters at a campaign rally held in Dar es Salaam that he has evidence to prove workers for state utility TANESCO were deliberately opening dam floodgates. Magufuli has campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, pledging to create a special court to oversee all corruption-related issues. According to many polls, he is the frontrunner to replace retiring President Jakaya Kikwete in the October 25th presidential election.
On October 16th, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim traveled to Jamestown, Ghana to commemorate End Poverty Day. While in Ghana, President Kim recognized the progress Ghana has made in the past two decades in improving health and education and reducing poverty. Additionally, President Kim launched the flagship World Bank “Poverty in a Rising Africa” report.
On October 16th, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina traveled to Accra, Ghana to pay a courtesy visit to President John Dramani Mahama and participate in World Bank activities around End Poverty Day. In their meeting, President Adesina and President Mahama discussed the AfDB’s cooperation with Ghana and how the AfDB can further support development initiatives in the country. While President Adesina commended Ghana for its efforts to significantly reduce poverty, he noted the variability in the level of poverty and inequality in the country.
On October 19th, U.N. Independent Expert on human rights in Mali Suliman Baldo concluded a visit to the country. Independent Expert Baldo reported the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation and the extension of the mandate of the U.N. Integrated Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) are encouraging, but warned significant challenges remain, including recent violations of the peace agreement and the ceasefire, which give rise to human rights violations.
On October 19th, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Monica Pinto concluded her first official visit to Guinea-Bissau. Special Rapporteur Pinto observed that generally the justice situation in the country is terrible and urged authorities to prioritize measures to guarantee better access to justice and to restore trust in justice institutions. Meanwhile, she recognized as a positive the Supreme Court ruling this year that declared the appointment of the country’s prime minister unconstitutional.
On October 20th, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said if he is reelected in the vote scheduled for October 25th, he will push for constitutional reform to eliminate the national clause that sparked the country’s 2002-2003 civil war. The clause requires presidential candidates to prove both their parents are Ivorians who were born in the country, and to certify that they never claimed citizenship of another country.
On October 20th, Ghanaian and Nigerian negotiators reached a deal regarding Ghana’s Volta River Authority’s debt to Nigeria’s N-Gas. Under the agreement, the Ghanaian Government will pay the Nigerian gas consortium the $170 million owed by February to mitigate Nigeria’s threat to cut gas supplies to Ghana by 70 percent.
On October 21st, the World Bank touted its Emergency Youth Employment and Skills Development Project in Cote d’Ivoire, which was launched to assist the government and local companies in providing professional training and jobs for young men and women in the country. To date the, project has benefitted more than 27,000 Ivorian youths through internships, skills development, and other income generating activities.
On October 21st, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a new report finding that nearly 700 Kenyans have returned to Kenya after quitting armed groups, notably Al Shabaab in Somalia. Over the past year, Al Shabaab has carried out a number of attacks in Kenya and ramped up recruiting efforts in the northeastern part of the country. The IOM warned those returning to Kenya must be reintegrated into society in order to prevent further radicalization.
On October 21st, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina spoke at the “Feeding Africa, An Action Plan for African Agricultural Transformation” event in Dianmniadio, Senegal. President Adesina said harnessing Africa’s agricultural potential can serve as a much-needed game changer for the continent’s economy, but this can only happen if agriculture is treated as a real business venture attracting investments from the private sector.
On October 22nd, some schools in Kidal, Mali reopened following a spate of recent violence between rival armed groups and Islamist militants in the northern part of the country. Meanwhile, some school re-openings were postponed due to anti-government protests and the local teachers’ union urging its members not to return to work without greater guarantees of protection.
On October 15th, South African authorities launched an investigation into the collapse of a pedestrian bridge last week over the main highway linking Johannesburg with Pretoria that resulted in two deaths and left 21 others injured. The accident also created severe traffic disruptions.
On October 16th, the International Criminal Court (ICC) informed South African authorities they would be given more time to explain why they failed to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in June. The ICC had initially given South Africa until October 5th to defend its decision. That deadline has now been pushed to December 31st. The response from the SCC follows a statement from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) that South Africa will withdraw from the ICC.
On October 16th, Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the government will undertake measured interventions to protect consumers from unjustified price hikes of essential commodities, such as maize meal. In the past week, traders in the market hiked the price of maize meal following a sharp decline of the kwacha currency.
On October 19th, the FAO warned an estimated 27.4 million people in southern Africa face food insecurity in the next months. According to the latest update from the Southern Africa Food and Nutrition Working Group, parts of Lesotho, Angola, and Mozambique are at risk of food security, while the most immediate threats persist in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar, where there is severe crop failure due to dry spells and flooding.
On October 19th, members of the AU’s new 25,000-strong multinational Africa Standby Force (ASF) began a series of training exercises at the South African Army Combat Training Center in Lohatla. The force, which will be stood up at a logistical base in Cameroon, was created to have an African force that is ready to respond to crises and monitor peacekeeping missions across the continent. The force is expected to officially deploy in January.
On October 19th, Zimbabwean opposition parties considered taking court action against First Lady Grace Mugabe, who they argued abused a $98 million agricultural equipment loan facility secured from frazil and used it for her own political benefit. The opposition alleges the First Lady used the funds to launch her campaign to succeed her husband, President Robert Mugabe, in the 2018 general election.
On October 19th, South African police said they were looking for two suspects in connection to the death of Zimbabwean Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo’s daughter, Zanele Moyo, whose body was discovered in her apartment in Cape Town over the weekend. While reports suggest the cause of death was unknown, police noted they were opening a murder investigation.
On October 19th, South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was released from prison into correctional supervision to serve the remainder of his sentence for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, under house arrest. Pistorius will remain in his uncle’s house in Waterkloof for the remainder of his sentence.
On October 19th, The New York Times profiled the Clinton Foundation’s work in Rwanda. Despite accusations of human rights abuses in the country, the Clinton Foundation has worked closely with President Paul Kagame and his government to advance progress on development goals in health care and rural assistance.
On October 20th, the World Bank highlighted projects it is financing in Goma, DRC, to help reignite economic activity following years of conflict. With support from the World Bank, work has begun on modernizing Goma’s airport and restoring its landing strip. With the repairs, heavy aircraft will soon be able to reach the region once again.
On October 20th, a Zimbabwean court refused local hunter Theo Bronkhort’s request to drop charges against him for failing to stop American Walter Palmer from killing Cecil the lion. While Palmer was cleared of charges last week, the court in Hwange dismissed Bronkhort’s application. Bronkhorst continues to deny any wrongdoing and said his family and his business have been destroyed following the lion’s death. His trial is scheduled for November 20th.
On October 20th, police in the ROC fired tear gas and warning shots at thousands of opposition supporters protesting a planned referendum on a revision to the country’s constitution that would allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to remain in power. According to witnesses, at least two protestors were injured. Later reports confirmed four people were killed. Additionally, schools, business, and government buildings in Brazzaville remained closed due to the unrest.
On October 21st, South African prosecutors charged 17 miners with murder over the killing of ten people during the Marikana mines massacre in August 2012. Thirty-four strikers were also shot and killed by police, bringing the death toll to 44. An independent commission recently blamed platinum producer Lonmin, police, and unions for the related violence and deaths. .
On October 21st, leaders of the Pygmy and Bantu ethnic groups in the DRC signed an agreement to end a conflict that has resulted in widespread violence in the region since May 2013. The accord establishes mixed committees to review disputes and find peaceful solutions to conflict.
On October 22nd, the Center of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights (CEPADHO), a local activist group in the DRC, reported discovering six bodies with stab wounds and bullet holes, suspected to have been killed by Ugandan fighters with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) near Beni. According to CEPADHO, more than 500 people have been killed in overnight massacres in the region.
General Africa News
On October 15th, U.N. Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism Ikponwosa Ero issued an urgent appeal for coordinated action in southern and eastern African to tackle the uptick in attacks against persons with albinism. Independent Expert Ero noted attacks against people with albinism have been reported in six African countries since August, in addition to an increased demand for body parts of persons with albinism in the lead up to elections in several nations.
On October 16th, the World Bank issued its new “Poverty in a Rising Africa” report. The report finds that Africa’s rate of extreme poverty fell from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012. However, because of population increases, an estimated 63 million more people are living in extreme poverty in Africa today than in 1990. Meanwhile, the report also finds that strong economic growth in some parts of Africa had contributed to improving people’s health and education.
On October 16th, the AfDB participated in World Food Day ceremonies organized by the FAO as part of the Expo Milano 2015. AfDB Vice President for Agriculture, Water, Human Development, and Governance Aly Abou-Sabaa also participated in a panel titled, “Finance for Food: Investing in Agriculture for a Sustainable Future.”
On October 16th, Defense One profiled African governments’ use of surveillance programs to eavesdrop against their citizens. Uganda is using Finfisher software, while Ethiopian authorities are suspected of using off-the-shelf software to spy on journalists. In the past year, Nigeria completed a $40 million contract with an Israeli company for a surveillance system, while South Africa’s National Communications Center is thought to be engaged in routine surveillance.
On October 17th, the Vatican released details regarding Pope Francis upcoming visit to Kenya, Uganda, and the CAR, scheduled for November 25th-30th. In Kenya, Pope Francis will visit Kangemi, a slum in Nairobi that is home to 650,000 people, and hold an interreligious meeting and mass in the capital. In Uganda, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit a home for the disabled in Nalukolongo, and in the CAR, he will meet with Muslim leaders in the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui.
On October 19th, Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya initiated a study to clarify the expected power volumes and revenues from each country that will result from the construction of a high voltage power line linking all three countries. The $1.4 billion project, due to be completed by 2018, is intended to enhance power trade, security of electricity supply, and regional economic integration.
On October 19th, Global Witnesses issued a new report finding that Nigeria, Angola, the ROC, and the DRC lost $4 billion in shady oil and mining deals. The report questions the role of international oil companies that facilitate these deals and calls on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to police the hidden ownership of companies used for corruption.
On October 20th, PricewaterhouseCoopers released its annual report on oil and gas reserves in Africa. According to the report, Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, and Egypt account for 90 percent of the continent’s natural gas production, although Africa has natural gas reserves totaling an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet. At current production rates, the report suggests Africa has nearly 70 years of natural gas production available.
On October 22nd, the World Bank published a new report titled, “Africa’s Demographic Transition: Dividend or Disaster?” The report notes that by 2060 there will be about 2.8 billion people in Africa out of a world population of ten billion. Further, the report urges African governments to pursue the right policies, such as reductions in fertility rates and increased investments in education and health care to reap the benefits of demographic change.
Joseph Sweiss and Madeline Beecher are co-authors of this article.