U.N. Support Mission in Libya, World Health Organization and more: Africa Update for August 20, 2015
Leading the News
On August 13th, the latest round of the United Nations (U.N.)-facilitated Libyan political dialogue concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the parties reiterated their conviction that there can be no alternative to peace in Libya outside the U.N. dialogue process. In addition, UNSMIL reported participants emphasized the need to set aside partisan agendas and uphold the country’s higher national interests and underscored their determination to conclude the dialogue process as soon as possible, with a target date within the coming three weeks. The conclusion of the latest round of talks was noted here.
On August 14th, Reuters reported around 37 people have been killed in clashes between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters and a Salafist Muslim group battling for control of Sirte. Fighting began last week when the Salafist Muslim group attacked ISIL militants in the area, accusing them of killing a prominent preacher. By Friday, ISIL appeared to be in control of the city. An update on the clashes in Sirte was provided here.
On August 15th, UNSMIL condemned attacks on Sirte by ISIL militants and urged Libyans to agree to a unity government that can address the country’s challenges and confront terrorism. UNSMIL noted Libyan calls for swift action to save Sirte and urged Libyan stakeholders to finalize a political agreement and establish a Government of National Accord. UNSMIL’s feedback can be viewed here.
On August 16th, the Governments of the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom (U.K.) issued a joint statement condemning the ongoing barbaric acts by ISIL-affiliated terrorists in Sirte, Libya. The governments expressed concern about reports that ISIL fighters had shelled densely populated parts of the city and committed indiscriminate acts of violence. Further, the world leaders called on all Libyan parties to join efforts to combat the threat posed by transnational terrorist groups and welcomed the most recent round of the U.N. political dialogue. The full statement was shared here.
On August 17th, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson John Kirby acknowledged the Libyan Government’s call for Arab militaries to conduct airstrikes against ISIL-affiliated positions in and around Sirte. He reiterated the State Department’s position that the best way to counter terrorism in Libya and create a safe environment for all Libyans is in partnership with a committed and unified Libyan Government. Spokesperson Kirby also expressed support for the U.N.-led process to get to that end. His comments were recorded here.
On August 18th, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern over violence in Sirte, Libya, involving militants claiming allegiance to ISIL. According to reports from OHCHR and UNSMIL, most civilians fled the area after a shelling by ISIL forces. The fatalities were estimated to be as high as 38 people, with 16 men also reported captured. An update on the situation in Sirte was provided here.
On August 18th, the Arab League endorsed a call by Libya’s internationally recognized government for fellow Arab States to directly arm its military as it faces a renewed assault by ISIL. The 22-nation alliance did not pledge any immediate assistance, expressing concern that shipping arms to Libya might undermine the ongoing U.N. peace talks. The Arab League is due to meet again on August 27th to discuss progress in forming a joint Arab military force, which was proposed by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi in March. The full story is available here.
On August 13th, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted its efforts to continue to battle the cholera outbreak in South Sudan by boosting assistance to help children and the most vulnerable prevent and reduce the spread of further cases. The WHO reported progress is being made in providing access to safe water and sanitation for all populations and in improving access to health care services for those who are sick. Additionally, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched educational campaigns to promote rules of good hygiene, safe water, and food preparation. Details can be seen here.
On August 14th, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported the month-long restrictions on the movement of goods by air and river routes in South Sudan have been lifted, allowing delivery of aid supplies, including medicines, fuel, food, and water, to Malakal. Due to restrictions on the movement of barges on the Nile River and the need for clearances to use the Malakal airstrip, very limited assistance was provided to Upper Nile state in July. According to OCHA, relief agencies continue to race to cope with the influx of newly displaced people as the rainy season creates desperate living conditions. The situation was described here.
On August 17th, U.S. Department of State Counselor Tom Shannon traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to represent the U.S. during the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus Heads of State Summit on South Sudan. Counselor Shannon joined U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth, who was already in Addis Ababa. While in Ethiopia, Counselor Shannon was expected to engage the South Sudanese parties and diplomatic partners to promote the signing of a peace agreement. His travel was announced here.
On August 17th, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir refused to sign a peace deal to end the country’s civil war, letting the deadline for a final accord mediated by African leaders pass. The South Sudanese Government requested 15 more days to decide whether or not to sign the agreement, which had already been initialed by two other factions, including the one led by opposition leader Riek Machar. During his visit to Africa last month, U.S. President Barack Obama threatened both sides of the conflict with sanctions if an agreement were not reached by August 17th. The full story is available here.
On August 17th, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson John Kirby welcomed the signing of the IGAD peace agreement by opposition leader Riek Machar and other parties and stakeholders in South Sudan. He expressed regret the Government of South Sudan chose not to sign the agreement, which was supported by all of the states in the IGAD, as well as the U.S., U.K., Norway, China, African Union (AU), and U.N. Spokesperson Kirby called on the government to sign the agreement within the 15-day period requested for consultations and said the U.S. will work with regional and international partners to increase pressure against those who are undermining the peace process by opposing the agreement. Spokesperson Kirby’s feedback was posted here.
On August 18th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the signing by former South Sudan Vice President Riek Macher and the Former Detainees of the compromise peace agreement put forward by IGAD mediators. Secretary-General Ban noted that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir initialed a copy of the agreement with some reservations and expressed hope that President Kiir will ultimately sign the agreement by the end of the 15-day deadline. Secretary-General Ban’s input was articulated here.
On August 18th, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice welcomed the signing of the South Sudan peace agreement by the opposition and other stakeholders, but expressed disappointment that the Government of South Sudan displayed failed leadership and squandered an opportunity to bring peace to their people by refusing to sign the agreement. The U.S. expressed continued support for IGAD as it strives to secure the full and final agreement of the Government of Sudan within the agreed 15 days. Ambassador Rice noted the U.S. has initiated consultations with the U.N. and other IGAD and international partners on action in the U.N. Security Council to sanction those who undermine the peace process, if an agreement is not signed by the Government within 15 days and a ceasefire is not implemented promptly by all parties. A statement was released here.
On August 18th, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) issued a statement welcoming the signing of a peace agreement by the Sudanese People Liberation Movement – In Opposition (SPLM-IO) and expressing concern for the Government of South Sudan’s delay in signing the accord. If the agreement is not signed within 15 days, Senator Cardin called on the international community to take tougher measures against the senior leadership of warring factions and establish a U.N. arms embargo against both the Government of South Sudan and the SPLM-IO. Senator Cardin’s Statement was issued here.
On August 18th, South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei said the government has initiated a process for consulting with constituents on whether or not to sign on to the IGAD-facilitated peace agreement. Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin also indicated the government would begin talks with non-governmental groups, political parties, and other stakeholders to determine how to best move the peace process forward. The consultation process was outlined here.
On August 18th, South Sudanese rebels accused the government of attacking its positions in Imatong just hours after President Salva Kiir refused to sign a peace deal proposed by IGAD mediators. The claim, issued by former Vice President Riek Machar, can be seen here.
On August 18th, the Government of Uganda called on South Sudan’s warring factions to put their egos aside and make peace. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had been among African and global leaders who traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to participate in the recent, IGAD-led peace negotiations. The Ugandan Government urged the continuation of mediation and encouraged every side to realize their country is superior to every one of them individually. For details, click here.
n August 19th, the U.S. Department of State said South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has told Secretary of State John Kerry that he intends to sign a peace agreement and implement a power-sharing deal to end the civil war in the country. The two leaders spoke by phone on Wednesday. According to State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, President Kiir made clear he has every intention of signing the deal, but needed more time for consultations. Their conversation was summarized here.
On August 19th, South Sudanese journalist Peter Julius Moi was shot dead by unidentified assailants while leaving the offices of the independent New Nation newspaper in Juba. His murder comes just days after President Salva Kiir warned journalists about publishing work against their country. The assassination was reported here.
On August 20th, U.S. representatives to the U.N. began circulating a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council proposing a U.N. arms embargo on South Sudan and further targeted sanctions from September 6th unless President Salva Kiir signs the IGAD-mediated peace deal. Senior diplomats noted they a pressing for immediate action on the resolution. Details were shared here.
On August 13th, during a ceremony held to swear in new military chiefs for Nigeria’s army, navy, air force, and a new chief of defense, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency within three months. President Buhari also urged the new chiefs, who were announced on May 29th, to bring an end to armed banditry and kidnapping in the country. President Buhari’s remarks were captured here.
On August 13th, the Cameroonian Defense Ministry said Nigerian Boko Haram militants killed six villagers in an overnight attack on Blame, Cameroon, repelled by government soldiers, who killed 12 of the Islamist fighters. Additional attackers were driven back by the Cameroonian army. The attack was described here.
On August 14th, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern about the escalating violence in and around Nigeria and its impact on the situation of Nigerian refugees in surrounding host countries. While commending Cameroon, Chad, and Niger for their generosity over the past two years, UNHCR expressed concern about recent deportations of Nigerian refugees that have led to a shrinking space in which they can seek asylum. Details can be viewed here.
On August 16th, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device strapped on her body near the entrance of the Ramirgo market in Borno state, Nigeria. At least three people were killed in the bombing. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the incident bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram. The suicide bombing was noted here.
On August 17th, just days after Chadian President Idress Deby declared him dead, a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau surfaced in an online recording vowing to keep Boko Haram’s militancy raging for years to come. Shekau was last heard from six months ago in another recording in which he voiced Boko Haram’s loyalty to ISIL. The Nigerian Defense Ministry immediately dismissed the tape’s credibility, claiming the message is baseless and cannot be corroborated. The full story is available here.
On August 18th, witnesses and a local official said Boko Haram killed at least 60 people in the village of Kukuwa, Nigeria last week. Boko Haram fighters reportedly rode Toyota pickup trucks and motorcycles into the village last Thursday and began shooting at civilians. Many of those who died were villagers who drowned trying to swim through a river to escape. Nigerian forces have since pushed Boko Haram out of the village. The attack was reported here.
On August 14th, OHCHR reported the situation in Burundi continues to deteriorate amid ongoing killings, arrests, and detentions in the latest post-election turmoil to afflict the country. OHCHR urged all sides to resume dialogue before the situation spirals completely out of control. Further, OHCHR warned Burundi slips closer to the edge with every high-profile attack and killing and called for investigations of all human rights abuses. Feedback from OHCHR can be accessed here.
On August 16th, following the killing of former military Chief of Staff Colonel Jean Bikomagu by unidentified gunmen in Bujumbura, the AU warned the crisis in Burundi risks spiraling into a catastrophe for the country and the wider region. Colonel Bikomagu was army chief during the civil war that started in 1993 when the Tutsi-dominated army was fighting National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) Hutu rebels. AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma condemned Colonel Bikomagu’s murder and said his killing demonstrates the gravity of the situation in Burundi. The AU’s response was articulated here.
On August 17th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the assassination of Burundi’s former Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Jean Bikomagu, who was shot dead by unknown assailants in Bujumbura on August 15th. Colonel Bikomagu’s murder represents the second killing of a senior Burundian official this month. Secretary-General Ban welcomed the Burundian Government’s decision to carry out investigations into the recent killings and reiterated his calls to all Burundians to resume an inclusive dialogue to settle their differences. Secretary-General Ban’s comments were captured here.
Central African Republic
On August 14th, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon as his Acting Special Representative for the Central African Republic (CAR) and head of the U.N. Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). Special Representative Onanga-Anyanga succeeds Babacar Gaye of Senegal, who resigned on August 12th amid allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against MINUSCA peacekeepers. Special Representative Onanga-Anyanga most recently served as head of the U.N. Office in Burundi (BNUB) and as Coordinator of U.N. Headquarters Response to Boko Haram. His appointment was announced here.
On August 14th, the U.S. Department of State expressed shock and dismay by allegations and incidents of serious misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers serving in MINUSCA. The State Department said the most recent allegations of rape and civilian casualties raise serious concerns about the mission’s discipline and command and called for immediate and thorough investigations. Additionally, the State Department commended the U.N.’s response to the allegations and reiterated its belief that MINUSCA is important to supporting the transition process and advance peace and reconciliation in the CAR. A full statement can be accessed here.
On August 16th, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake noted that UNICEF staff has met with a young girl in the CAR who was reportedly raped by a U.N. police officer. The meeting made clear that the child endured a brutal ordeal. UNICEF is providing the victim with medical assistance and support to deal with the psychological impact of the incident. UNICEF’s role in investigation the allegations against MINUSCA peacekeepers was described here.
On August 17th, MINUSCA said it is determined to investigate fully all allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by its forces in the CAR and to hold the perpetrators accountable. Information gathered by the Human Rights and Child Protection sections and MINUSCA police has been submitted to the U.N. internal oversight body (OIOS). The U.N. noted the investigation is complicated by the numerous nationalities of police and military personnel involved in the operations and noted MINUSCA will not publish any preliminary findings. The investigations were detailed here.
On August 18th, the U.N. Security Council welcomed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s comment to enforcing a zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation or abuse by U.N. personnel, stressing the importance of the U.N. quickly investigating the most recent allegations of misconduct in the CAR. While the Security Council said that all peacekeepers must comply with relevant provisions of international law, including with respect to the protection of human rights, it also noted the actions of few peacekeepers in the CAR should not tarnish the work of other U.N. personnel. The Security Council’s reaction to the situation in the CAR was captured here.
On August 19th, U.N. Deputy Special Representative for the CAR and Deputy Head of MINUSCA Diane Corner announced new allegations of misconduct by U.N. personnel. The new allegations relate to a case where three young females, including one minor, were victims of rape by members of a MINUSCA military contingent. Deputy Special Representative Corner said MINUSCA immediately informed U.N. headquarters of the allegations and will make sure to preserve all available evidence. The new accusations were discussed here.
West Africa Ebola Outbreak
On August 13th, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan and U.N. Special Envoy on Ebola Dr. David Nabarro briefed the U.N. Security Council on the ongoing global response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Director-General Chan and Special Envoy Nabarro said the Ebola crisis has demonstrated the importance of emergency preparedness in Africa and around the world. In addition, both health officials said if the current intense focus on case detection and contact tracing is maintained, Ebola could be defeated by the end of this year. The briefing was summarized here.
On August 15th, Sierra Leone lifted its last major Ebola quarantine, releasing more than 500 people from isolation. President Ernest Bai Koroma said the move signals the beginning of the end of the Ebola outbreak in the country, as Sierra Leone is currently dealing with just two confirmed Ebola patients. Small communities of a few dozen people remain under quarantine in parts of the northern Tonkolili district and in Freetown. Developments were noted here.
On August 17th, the WHO announced that no new Ebola cases were reported during the most recent reporting period in Sierra Leone for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak in West Africa. WHO Representative in Sierra Leone Dr. Anders Nordstrom attributed the milestone to strong community involvement and the thorough work of rapid response teams. According to the WHO, Sierra Leone is now down to a single chain of transmission, which started in Freetown and sparked a cluster of cases in the district of Tonkolili. An update was provided here.
On August 19th, the WHO updated its statistics on the number of Ebola cases in West Africa. For the week ending August 16th, there were three confirmed cases of Ebola, all reported in Guinea. For the first time since the beginning of the outbreak in Sierra Leone, a full epidemiological week has passed with no confirmed cases reported in the country. Additionally, the WHO noted overall case incidence has held at three confirmed cases per week for three consecutive weeks. Additional data was analyzed here.
On August 19th, in recognition of World Humanitarian Day, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance Jeremy Konyndyk authored a blog post highlighting the role of humanitarian workers in fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Director Konyndyk said Liberia now has no Ebola cases and new cases in Sierra Leone and Guinea are at their lowest numbers since the start of the outbreak, signaling a successful end to Ebola in West Africa is increasingly near. The blog post can be accessed here.
African Migrant Crisis in the Mediterranean
On August 18th, Greece appealed to its European Union (EU) partners to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with a growing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean as new data showed 21,000 refugees arriving on Greek shores in just the last week. This figure represents almost half of Greece’s overall refugee intake in 2014 and brings total arrivals this year to 160,000. More information can be found here.
On August 18th, Italian police arrested eight suspected human traffickers thought to have forced migrants to stay in the hold of a fishing boat in the Mediterranean as 49 of them suffocated on engine fumes. The dead migrants were discovered last weekend, packed on a fishing boat also carrying 312 others trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa. Details can be viewed here.
On August 19th, the EU border control agency Frontex recorded more than three times as many migrants entering the EU by irregular means last month than a year ago. While Frontex acknowledged part of the increase may be due to better monitoring, it also highlighted there have been more than 2,000 migrant deaths this year. For more information, click here.
On August 19th, UNHCR announced it has set up a forum to improve Libya’s capabilities in responding to boats in distress in its waters by streamlining information sharing and coordinating with international organizations. The new contact group, comprised of Libyan officials responsible for search and rescue and border security, will convene at least three times over the next nine months to discuss how to minimize refugee and migrant deaths during the Mediterranean crossing. The initiative was launched here.
On August 20th, Britain and France announced new measures to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the Channel Tunnel, while also stepping up joint police operations against traffickers seeking to help migrants cross the Mediterranean. The new joint command will report to both counties’ interior ministries. Details were shared here.
United States – Africa Relations
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
On August 14th, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published a notice in the Federal Register inviting public comments to inform its recommendations to President Barack Obama on which developing African countries should be eligible for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits. In order to qualify for duty-free benefits under AGOA, a country must show it has established or is making strides toward a market based economy, rule of law, political diversity, due process, openness to U.S. trade, measures to stem public corruption, and workers’ rights protections. USTR will hold a public hearing on the AGOA eligibility review on September 10th. The Federal Register notice can be downloaded here.
On August 13th, the State Department acknowledged with Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz’s dismissal of Prime Minister Domingos Pereira, Guinea Bissau faces its first governing crisis since the free and fair elections of 2014. The State Department called on leaders to seek dialogue and consensus in resolving the crisis in a manner that both serves the best interests of the Bissau-Guinean people and establishes a clear outline of roles in order to avoid prolonged political crisis now and in the future. Additionally, the State Department called on leaders to quickly come together to recommit themselves to the vision for political and economic development in the country presented at the March 2015 Brussels International Conference for Guinea Bissau. A full statement was posted here.
On August 14th, Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated the Republic of Congo (ROC) on the 55th anniversary of its independence. Secretary Kerry said the U.S. looks forward to continuing its friendship with the ROC and exploring opportunities to strengthen cooperation in supporting democratic institutions, economic opportunity, and peace. Secretary Kerry’s statement can be read here.
On August 14th, the State Department highlighted Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein’s recent visit to Khartoum, Sudan, to discuss religious freedom with government officials, religious leaders, and civil society representatives. In meetings with Sudanese Government officials, including at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Guidance and Endowment, and Parliament, Ambassador Saperstein stressed the importance of freedom of religion and encouraged the government to end its unequal treatment of religious minorities and bring its national laws and practices in line with the country’s constitution and international human rights obligations. Ambassador Saperstein also met with various representatives of Christian and Muslim groups, convened a roundtable of women to discuss religion in the country, and attended the verdict hearing for two South Sudanese pastors charged with a number of crimes. Ambassador Saperstein’s trip to Sudan was outlined here.
On August 17th, Secretary of State John Kerry sent best wishes to the people of Gabon on the 55th anniversary of the nation’s independence. Secretary Kerry applauded Gabon’s tireless efforts as a co-host of this year’s AGOA Forum, as well as its dedication to expanding economic diversification. In addition, he expressed gratitude for Gabon’s efforts to respect environmental conservation. Secretary Kerry’s remarks were posted here.
On August 18th, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Thomas Perriello returned to the region to visit Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Angola. Special Envoy Perriello’s trip will focus on upcoming elections in the region in furtherance of President Barack Obama’s policy in support of democratic transitions. He will also engage with regional leaders on continued efforts to address the deteriorating situation in Burundi, end the continued depredations of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and pursue the unresolved implementation of the Nairobi Declarations guiding the reintegration of ex-M23 combatants in the DRC. Following his visit to Africa, Special Envoy Perriello will travel to Geneva Switzerland, August 26th-30th, for meetings with international envoys also working to support stakeholders and processes in the region devoted to promoting democratization, stability, and economic development. His travel was announced here.
On August 18th, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby noted the U.S. is concerned that some measures in Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law could have a significant detrimental impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms, including due process safeguards, freedom of association, and freedom of expression. He reiterated that the U.S. stands with Egypt in the fight against terrorism and that defeating terrorism requires a long-term comprehensive strategy that builds trust between the authorities and the public, including by enabling those who disagree with the government’s policies to express those views peacefully and through participation in the political process. His comments were recorded here.
On August 19th, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks on World Humanitarian Day, praising those who venture out to some of the most dangerous places on earth and risk their lives to save others. In the last year, Secretary Kerry noted at least 329 humanitarian aid workers were victims of major attacks, more than 100 were kidnapped, and 120 died in the service of millions of people need. He also recognized the health care workers who risked their lives to treat people with Ebola in West Africa. Secretary Kerry’s full remarks can be read here.
On August 19th, during a background briefing on the upcoming AGOA Forum to be held in Gabon, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the trade agreement allows the U.S. to export many of its intangible values, including an open-market system and an emphasis on development, democratization, and women’s empowerment. Additionally, Assistant USTR Florie Liser said the recent ten-year extension of AGOA will also provide more stability and allow for a more strategic conversation about the future of the U.S. trade and investment relationship with Africa. The briefing was summarized here.
Department of Defense
On August 17th, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs highlighted mortar team cross-training exercises conducted between U.S. and Zambian soldiers as part of Southern Accord 2015. Southern Accord is a joint-training exercise funded by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). This year’s exercise brought together more than 800 participants from Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, the U.K., the Netherlands, the U.S., and Germany to enhance capabilities and increase inoperability in support of peacekeeping operations. The training exercises were described here.
On August 17th, AFRICOM noted the participation of military medical leaders from 12 West African nations in the second African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance (APORA), recently held in Burkina Faso. Formed in response to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, APORA provided a forum for discussion on the ways to best prepare for a variety of future infectious disease epidemics in the region. More information can be found here.
On August 18th, two-star Major General Niel Nelson assumed command of Marine Corps forces in Europe and Africa. Major General Nelson, who will be stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, replaces two general officers in the U.S. who shared command of Marine Forces Europe-Africa on top of their other duties. Marine Forces Europe was previously overseen by new Marine Commandant Lieutenant General Robert Neller, while Marine Forces Africa was overseen by Major General William Beydler. Commandant Neller and Major General Beydler previously shared a common staff in Stuttgart, which will continue to work with Major General Nelson. Details can be seen here.
On August 18th, the Associated Press reported the Obama Administration is reviewing the future of America’s three-decade deployment to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The review was triggered by increasing concerns that lightly equipped peacekeepers in the region could be targets of escalating violence influenced by ISIL. The Administration is reportedly considering a number of options, ranging from increasing the protection of U.S. peacekeepers to pulling them from the region altogether. An article on the review was published here.
On August 19th, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs highlighted the Cutlass Express 2016 Main Planning Event (MPE) recently held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The four-day planning event aimed to further develop exercise scenarios for partner nations, participant force offerings, schedule of events, and participant manning for Cutlass Express. The exercise, scheduled to take place in early 2016 within several exercise operational areas along East Africa, is one of four regional Express Series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa. It is focused on increasing interagency capabilities in deterring piracy, countering illicit trafficking, and addressing other maritime threats in the region. Details were shared here.
Department of Justice
On August 13th, Mercury Public Affairs filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to act as a foreign agent on behalf of the Government of Uganda. Uganda will pay Mercury Public Affairs $50,000 per month to provide general lobbying and communication services to promote trade and investment opportunities in the country. Vin Weber, a top advisor to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, is the only registered lobbyist on the account. The Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filings can be downloaded here.
Securities and Exchange Commission
On August 18th, a divided DC Circuit Court upheld a 2014 ruling that struck down a key part of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requirement that public companies disclose whether their products are free from certain conflict minerals that help fund Central African warlords. In a 2-1 decision on an appeal from the SEC, the court ruled that nothing in the past year of litigation merited the panel overturning its earlier analysis that compelling companies to disclose their use of conflict minerals would be a violation of First Amendment rights. The ruling was detailed here.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
On August 9th-20th, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) hosted a delegation of senior officials from sub-Saharan Africa’s agribusiness sector in the U.S. for the Agribusiness Reverse Trade Mission (RTM). The visit was designed to introduce delegates to U.S. companies that provide equipment and services for large scale agribusiness projects and to showcase state-of-the-art U.S. agribusiness technologies and facilities. Details can be viewed here.
On August 18th, USTDA hosted a business briefing in Fargo, North Dakota, to introduce delegates on the sub-Saharan Africa RTM to a variety of U.S. companies in the industry. The RTM delegation included key decision-makers from leading agribusinesses and government entities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Botswana, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, South Africa, and Zambia. The business briefing provided an opportunity for delegates to discuss upcoming agribusiness projects in sub-Saharan African with interested U.S. firms and agencies in attendance. More information was shared here.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
On August 17th, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) announced plans to hold an Energy, Poverty, and Gender Conference on September 10th in Washington, DC. In partnership with the World Bank and other Power Africa agencies, MCC will bring together international experts for a one-day learning and knowledge exchange event. MCC has invested nearly $1 billion in the energy sector in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania, and is working to invest more in Benin and Liberia and promote gender equality and social inclusion in all of its programs. Event logistics were posted here.
On August 18th, MCC highlighted a side investment to its five-year, $540 million compact with Senegal that has trained a group of 125 women in the northern city of Ndioum to start a cooperative that creates and sell packets of sweet dairy product. Many of the women are refugees from Mauritania who have been living in Senegal for more than a decade, but have been unable to find work. The program was part of MCC’s larger investment to rebuild the highway that runs through Ndioum to help stimulate regional trade. For details, click here.
On August 19th, MCC called attention to how its compact with Senegal was used to invest $170 million to help farmers grow and sell more rice, tomatoes, and onions by rehabilitating and expanding irrigation in the northern part of the country. MCC’s investments included 130 miles of primary and drainage canals, as well as other efforts to support government agencies that provide water supply and drainage services in improving their financial sustainability and operational efficiency. MCC’s investments were highlighted here.
On August 12th, the Egyptian Ministry of Health reported a heatwave killed at least 61 people across Egypt last week and caused 581 others to be admitted to hospitals. Many of the victims who died of heatstroke were elderly, while other deaths were reported in psychiatric wards and prisons. Details were reported here.
On August 14th, an Egyptian military spokesperson said a military aircraft was on a mission against Islamist militants near the Libyan border when it crashed due to technical failure. Four people were killed and two others injured. Four militant vehicles were destroyed in the operation. Details can be viewed here.
On August 14th, The Guardian reported South Sudan’s sole brewery, opened by SAB Miller six years ago, could be forced to cease production within weeks due to shortages of fuel, raw materials, and foreign currency caused by the ongoing political conflict. In the past 20 months, beer production has been cut by 75 percent and a quarter of employees have been put on rotational leave. SAB Miller’s locally produced beers, including Nile Special and White Bull, have edged foreign competition in the South Sudanese market and come to be known as a symbol of South Sudan’s independence. The full story is available here.
On August 16th, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi approved a new anti-terrorism law, raising concern among human rights activities and some Egyptian politicians and judges. The new law defines terrorism as any crime that disturbs the public order and includes new provisions to protect security forces from prosecution, establish stiffer prison sentences for terror-related offenses, implement heavy fines for those who publish false news, and create a special judicial circuit for terrorism cases. While the Egyptian Government argues the new measures will stop attacks from Islamist militants, critics claim the law is constitutionally flawed. Reactions to the new anti-terrorism law in Egypt were discussed here.
On August 17th, Algerian Minister of Energy Salah Khebri said both Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers need to take action to reduce global supply in response to falling crude prices. Earlier this month, Minister Khebri called for an OPEC emergency meeting because of the continued decline in oil prices, which dropped by half from a year ago amid rising production in the U.S. Oil and gas sales account for 60 percent of Algeria’s budget revenue and 95 percent of its export income. The situation was explained here.
On August 20th, ISIL claimed responsibility for a massive car bombing that targeted the Egyptian National Security Agency, wounding six police officers. In a message posted online, ISIL said the attack was carried out to avenge the deaths of some ISIL members earlier this year. The attack has sparked news fears of a possible uptick in ISIL attacks in the capital. The attack was reported here.
On August 12th, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) teamed up with authorities in Kenya and Tanzania to deploy ivory-sniffing canines to detect ivory in transit. The AWF recently graduated its first class of eight dogs and 14 handlers from the Kenya Wildlife Service and Tanzania’s Wildlife Division, who have been deployed to ports, airports, and border crossings. Despite an international ban on the trade of ivory, between 30,000 and 50,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks. The effort was described here.
On August 13th, CNN Global Executive Vice President and Managing Director Tony Maddix traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta and offer the network’s apology for referring to the country as a “hotbed of terror” in its coverage of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit. Following CNN’s reporting, which was intended to highlight the possibility of an attack by Al Shabaab during President Obama’s visit, the Kenyan Tourism Board withdrew its advertising from the network. President Kenyatta urged CNN to stick to factual reporting and show more responsibility in its delivery of security-related news about Kenya. An article on the situation can be read here.
On August 17th, dozens of suspected Somali Al Shabaab fighters swept into Basuba, Kenya and lectured villagers for two hours before disappearing into a nearby forest without attacking anyone. Residents said the masked militants warned them not to board any police or military vehicles because they would be targeted in future attacks. The incident was reported here.
On August 19th, the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicated it will reopen a hearing into whether to take action against Kenya over allegations it obstructed investigations into President Uhuru Kenyatta’s role in the country’s 2007 post-election violence. President Kenyatta has previously denied the charges. The reopening of the case was noted here.
On August 19th, the U.N., AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), IGAD, EU, U.S. and U.K. issued a joint statement expressing concern that a parliamentary motion to impeach Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would impede progress on the country’s peace and State-building goals. While recognizing the progress Somalia has made in recent years and the contributions made by the federal parliament, the leaders registered concern about progress on the legislative agenda and the need to pass key legislation including laws on elections, citizenship, political parties, and the constitutional court. The full statement was posted here.
On August 20th, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) called on the government to speed up the privatization of sugar factories in the country to foster competitiveness. According to KNCCI, 36 percent of Kenyan sugar companies are state-owned and should be privatized. More information can be found here.
On August 13th, African Development Bank (AfDB) Acting Chief Economist and Vice President Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa was the guest speaker at the annual lecture of the Nigerian Economic Society. In his presentation, Vice President Kayizzi-Mugerwa suggested the priorities of the development state in Africa are the elimination of poverty, utilization of resources for the betterment of the African population, ensuring that African minds are given space to ponder Africa’s future, and establishing mutually beneficial trade relations. His presentation was summarized here.
On August 14th, the Senegalese Government and Senelec signed a guarantee for the Tobene Power Project with the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), Tobene Power S.A., Citibank, and BNP Paribas. The IDA guarantee will provide a mechanism to enhance credit for Senelec’s payments to Tobene Power for its work on a 96 megawatt (MW) high efficiency heavy fuel oil power plant in Taiba Ndiaye, which is expected to being commercial operation in early 2016. A press release was issued here.
On August 14th, Emmanuel Kachikwu, the new head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPD), said he has started a three-phase restructuring of the state-owned oil company. After only being in the position for a week, Kahikwu has already dismissed all of the company’s executive directors and other top layers of management. In the second phase of the restructuring, the NNPD will complete a forensic audit. The final stage of the review will focus on examination of all existing contracts and trends in crude oil prices. For details, click here.
On August 14th, Ghana Medical Association President Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei said doctors are likely to call off a two-week strike over conditions of service due to appeals from chiefs, religious leaders, and other opinion leaders. The strike has resulted in the withdrawal of emergency services throughout the country. An end to the strike would be viewed as a victory for Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama’s National Democratic Congress ahead of the tightly contested 2016 election. An article on the strike was published here.
On August 15th, U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel Tony Lanzer completed a five-day visit to Mali. Following his trip, Coordinator Lanzer emphasized the necessity for the international community to sustain its engagement to meet the vital needs of Mali’s most vulnerable communities, while also supporting ongoing efforts towards peace and development. OCHA warned that 3.1 million Malians currently suffer from food insecurity and 410,000 require immediate assistance. More information can be found here.
On August 17th, the U.N. Security Council expressed concern over the current political developments in Guinea Bissau and called on leaders to seek dialogue and consensus in resolving the crisis in the interest of peace in the country. The Security Council noted the non-interference of security forces is important to the political situation in Guinea Bissau and welcomed the engagement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), AU, Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), the EU, and the U.N. in the search for a peaceful solution. Feedback from the Security Council was shared here.
On August 17th, the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) condemned fighting that erupted between armed groups in Mali’s Kidal region over the weekend. MINUSMA noted the new clashes break ceasefire agreements and the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, which was signed by both the National Movement for Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) and the Plateform Coalition. MINUSMA also reminded parties they will have to answer to the U.N. Security Council, which has threatened to consider sanctions against those who obstruct the implementation of the Peace Agreement. MINUSMA’s feedback can be viewed here.
On August 18th, MINUSMA announced the implementation of a security zone around the town of Kidal following deadly clashes between a pro-government group and Tuareg rebels over the weekend. According to MINUSMA, the fighting, which occurred in the violation of peace agreements, left at least ten dead and many injured. While the situation in Kidal had stabled, MINUSMA expressed concerned an increasing number of violations could hinder the progress made towards a stable and lasting peace in Mali. Developments in Mali were noted here.
On August 18th, in his speech marking Gabon’s 55th anniversary of independence, President Ali Bongo Ondimba said he would give all his share of the inheritance from his long-ruling father Omar Bongo Ondimba to Gabonese youth. President Ondimba said his part of the inheritance will be donated to a foundation for youth education. Additionally, he announced a property in Libreville would be transferred to the state for the establishment of a university. Excerpts from President Ondimba’s speech were highlighted here.
On August 18th, former Ivoirian Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and allies from 13 political parties launched the Coalition Nationale pour le Changement (CNC) as part of an effort to select a single opposition candidate to go up against President Alassane Ouattara in October elections. Banny is widely thought to be a frontrunner to be the CNC candidate and has said his first priority as president would be reconciliation and calling for people in exile to return. More information can be found here.
On August 18th, the Daily Post reported that government officials who served under the administration of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan have been quick to comply with a recent directive issued by President Muhammadu Buhari compelling them to return government property that was taken when they left office, including vehicles, generating sets, and furniture. In addition, those whose families are still occupying government buildings are reportedly beginning to vacate these spaces. For more information, click here.