Wanted Sudan Leader Al-Bashir Leaves South Africa

sudan president Al-BashirSudan’s President, Omar Al-Bashir, has left the African Union Summit for Khartoum, flying out of a military base in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

Mr Al-Bashir’s departure came hours before the Pretoria High Court will rule on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), who have charged him with war crimes and genocide.

The Sudanese leader was in Johannesburg for the 25th Assembly of Heads of State and government of the African Union.

On Sunday, the court ordered Mr Al-Bashir not to leave the country until the case had been heard.

Al-Bashir is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur Conflict.

The UN says about 300,000 people in Sudan have died and more than two million have fled their homes since fighting began in 2003.

Government forces and allied Arab militias are accused of targeting black African civilians in the fight against the rebels.

Full Text: President Buhari’s Speech at the Opening Session of the AU Summit

BuhariSTATEMENT BY MUHAMMADU BUHARI

PRESIDENT,

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

AT THE OPENING SESSION OF THE 25TH ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE AFRICAN UNION

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

14TH JUNE 2015

Excellency President Robert Mugabe, Chairman of the Union,

Excellency President Jacob Zuma, our Host,

Excellencies fellow Presidents and Heads of Government

Excellency Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission,

Excellencies, Heads of Delegation,

Invited Guests, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Please permit me to join previous speakers in conveying my delegation’s appreciation to our host, H.E. President Jacob Zuma, to his Government, and the brotherly people of South Africa for their warm hospitality, and for the excellent arrangements made for our comfort and for the success of our meetings. As this is my first address at this august assembly, may I also congratulate H.E. Dr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, for his unanimous election as the Chairman of our Union.

2. I feel highly honoured and extremely pleased to be able to address you today, barely two weeks after my inauguration as the President of Nigeria, following the 2015 Presidential election in my country. That process, which was adjudged as the fairest and most credible in the history of elections in Nigeria, was midwifed by the dogged and sustained determination of the Nigerian people, and their desire to deepen our democracy. Their quest was amply supported, and even encouraged by the goodwill of our friends and partners in the international community. I therefore wish to seize this opportunity to convey my very deep appreciation to all those who contributed to the success of that election.

3. My election has been described as historic. I agree that it is indeed historic because for the first time in the practice of democracy in my country, an opposition Party has defeated the ruling Party in a keenly contested election. The election was also held against the backdrop of the fears and concerns expressed both in Nigeria and among our international friends abroad and partners that the outcome of the election could spell doom for Nigeria. I am glad that even though those fears and concerns were not without basis, the outcome was totally different, to the relief of all of us.

4. I cannot fail to acknowledge the very positive role played by my predecessor, H.E. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in averting the feared crisis, and in facilitating the peaceful transition of power between the two parties. I also wish to express my deep appreciation to all who honoured us with their presence at my inauguration, and even those, who for unavoidable reasons were unable to attend. I thank you all.

Mr. Chairman,

5. It is gratifying to note that our Union has made laudable progress over the past one and a half decades since its transformation from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU). Notably, we have been able to redirect our priorities at the continental level from mainly political goals to more diverse aspirations that are equally fundamental to our survival and development in a global community.

6. It is however clear, Mr. Chairman, that some of the greater challenges to our peoples within this Union still lie in the political, economic, as well as peace and security spheres. Our continent is currently bedevilled by the twin evils of terrorism and insecurity; poverty, youth unemployment, and underdevelopment. The destructive effects of the inhuman and criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and neighbouring countries; the Al-Shabab attacks in East Africa, and the activities of the Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, all bear testimony to a continent under siege.

Mr Chairman,

Excellencies and Colleagues

7. On our part, I was convinced on my assumption of office that the best approach would be to work within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to mobilse collective support to fight against Boko Haram. I have in this regard, directed the relocation of Nigeria’s Command Centre to place it closer to the theatre of action. Furthermore, I have vigorously engaged the members states of the LCBC to better coordinate the strategies and tactics in fighting the insurgency in the region. I believe that this approach can be enhanced through complimentary regional and continental efforts.

8. The images in the international mass media of African youths getting drowned in the Mediterranean sea on their illegal attempts, and often times illusory hope of attaining better life in Europe is not only an embarrassment to us as leaders, but dehumanises our persons. Indeed, they combine to paint a very unfavourable picture of our peoples and countries.

9. Those of us gathered here today owe it as a duty to reverse this ugly trend. We must put an end to the so-called push factors that compel our young men and women to throw caution to the winds and risk life, limbs and all, on this dangerous adventure. We must redouble our efforts to sustain the economic development of our countries, ensure empowerment of our youths, create more jobs, improve and upgrade our infrastructure, and above all continue the enthronement of a regime of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights and rule of law. These and other measures that engender peace and stability must be pursued relentlessly.

10. In this connection, we must persist in our collective endeavour to work together through the African Union and our respective Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to uplift our continent and provide the African peoples the enabling environment for the realization of their legitimate dreams and aspirations. At this juncture, let me assure you of the unflinching commitment of Nigeria to the ideals and aspirations of the African Union as explained in the Agenda 2063, which is geared towards ensuring a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa in the next 50 years. It is for this reason that Nigeria is fully and irrevocably committed to the ECOWAS vision.

11. We do so because we believe that African integration is best attained through the instrumentality of our Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the building blocs of viable continental institutions. Nigeria will therefore continue to play her part in supporting the African Union Commission and other continental and regional institutions in their efforts to prioritize African development in all sectors of human endeavour.

12. The journey might look arduous, but certainly not impossible. There are opportunities in every challenge. If and when we adopt this call for a change of attitude, approach, and disposition towards agreed protocols and commitments, we shall be bequeathing a politically stable, economically developed, and socially harmonious Africa, thereby justifying the confidence reposed in us by our electorates. We will also demonstrate our qualities as statesmen and true daughters and sons of Africa.

13. I thank you for your kind attention.

AU Summit: 25th Ordinary Session Opens In South Africa

au summitThe ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union has opened on Sunday in South Africa.

African leaders congratulated newly-elected presidents including Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho.

They also congratulated Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir for conducting a successful poll.

This warm welcome is coming on the heels of a court order issued by a Pretoria high court judge, Hans Fabricious preventing President Al-Bashir from leaving South Africa.

The order is pending a decision of the court, to be made after an urgent application that Al Bashir be arrested today.

The judge made the order after granting the state a 3-hour period in which to prepare arguments in response to South Africa litigation centre’s application that President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority arrest Al Bashir on the order of the International Crimes Court (ICC).

As a signatory of the Rome treaty, South Africa is obliged to arrest the president, but the AU has previously refused to heed the ICC call, accusing them of targeting African leaders.

The ceremony featured statement by President Buhari and other newly elected and outgoing Heads of State and Government.

The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday chaired the Peace and Security Council meeting at the 25th AU Summit holding in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Talks at the meeting largely focused on security challenges facing some African countries, as participants sought better ways of tackling insurgency in some West African countries.

Sudanese President Prevented From Leaving South Africa

south-africaA Pretoria High Court Judge, Hans Fabricius, has issued an interim order, preventing Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir, from leaving South Africa.

The court says President Bashir will have to stay until it hears an application later on Sunday on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The application was made, following the ICC’s order that Al-Bashir be arrested immediately he landed in South Africa to attend the African Union (AU) summit currently being held in Johannesburg, for which he reportedly arrived on Saturday.

As a signatory of the Rome treaty, South Africa is obliged to arrest the President, but the AU has previously refused to heed the ICC call, accusing them of targeting African Leaders.

The ICC issued Warrants of Arrest against Al-Bashir in 2009, for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Dafur, Sudan Conflict.

The conflict claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, and left more than two million more displaced.

2015 Elections: Commonwealth Observers Will Not Go To North-East

commonwealthThe Commonwealth observer mission to Nigeria’s general elections says it would not deploy any observer to north-east Nigeria despite the progress made by the Federal Government to restore security in the region.

The Chairperson of the group and former President of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi, said that the Commonwealth mission would not take any risks, but get the information required from other bigger observer groups, as the security situation there remains a challenge.

Dr Muluzi said that the Observer Group would deploy its members across the country to witness the conclusion of the election campaigns, observe voting, counting, results, check the conditions available for credible elections and freedom for voters to exercise their franchise.

The Commonwealth Observer Group to Nigeria for the elections, starting this weekend is a high-powered 10-man delegation; consisting mainly of current and former African leaders and lawmakers, serving members of National Electoral Commissions from around Africa, led by the former President of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi.

Dr Muluzi told a news conference in Abuja that their duty is only to observe and make recommendations towards improving democracy in Commonwealth nations.

He also said that observers would not take the risk of going into the north east where the Nigerian military is still battling the insurgents.

The Commonwealth Observer Group has a mandate to observe and consider the various factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process and determine whether the elections is conducted according to the standards for democratic elections.

This will be done alongside other observer missions such as ECOWAS, European Union and the National Democratic Institute.

President Jonathan Liaises With Other African Leaders In Combating Terrorism

jonathan_goodluckPresident Goodluck Jonathan has returned from Pretoria, South-Africa where he met with other African leaders to discuss on how terrorism in Africa can be combated.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, briefed journalists on the outcome of the security meeting.

He said that African leaders have set up a committee made up of ministers from member countries to come out with modalities on how to deal with terrorism holistically.

Dr. Abati also debunked reports in some sections of the media that President Jonathan was geared by the #BringBackOurGirls protesters.

The Nigerian Government has been under pressure from Nigerians seeking a solution to the state of insecurity in the country, particularly since the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by the Boko Haram sect.

The abduction of the schoolgirls has drawn wide condemnation from the international community, with some countries offering support in the search for the girls.

OBJ Meets With Jonathan In Kenya

President Goodluck Jonathan and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday had breakfast together in Nairobi, Kenya.

Both men were among other African leaders that graced the 50th Independence Anniversary celebration of Kenya on Thursday, December 12.

Obasanjo’s visit was said to have taken everybody by surprise as it contradicts the expected nature of the relationship between both men, owing to recent public criticisms of the President by Obasanjo.

The unexpected meeting held prior to the anniversary event which was held at the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani, Nairobi with former president, Obasanjo paying a surprise visit to President Jonathan at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi where they had a private breakfast together.

Obasanjo, who had the breakfast with President Jonathan had written a strongly worded letter, which went public earlier this week, accusing him of performing below par and taking actions calculated at destroying the country.

Meanwhile, in his speech, at the event, President Jonathan called on all Kenyans to unite. According to him, there was no alternative to unity if Kenyans must move their nation forward. In building their nation, Jonathan told Kenyans that they must make unity their focal point.

He said that the destiny of Kenya lies with its people and as such, the people must strive hard to take their country to a greater height. President Jonathan said that he was happy that former Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga was present at the event and working with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Nobody can love you more than Kenyans, so you all have to jointly develop your country. All Kenyans should come together to form an inclusive society.

“Since 2007, many African countries like Kenya have been celebrating 50 years of independence and freedom, our founding fathers talked of political freedom to be followed by economic freedom.

“The present generation of African leaders must work hard on science and technology as well as industrialisation, so that there could be economic development and freedom” Jonathan stated.

Obasanjo was said to have sat quietly during the event and was making calls on his mobile phone at intervals while the event lasted.

Jonathan Urges African Leaders To Exploit Continent’s Potentials

President Goodluck Jonathan has urged African leaders to do more to fully develop and exploit their country’s comparative economic advantages over other parts of the world, for the benefit of their people.

Speaking at an event with Botswana’s new Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Louis Matshewenyego Fisher, President Jonathan said that African countries must evolve and implement policies that will maximize their economic potentials to move away from current “dependency” partnerships with the industrialised nations of the world.

The President urged the continent’s leaders to focus more on building domestic capacity around the strengths of their economies, instead of wasting their efforts on areas in which they lack a competitive edge.

Acknowledging the inter-connectivity of the world economy, President Jonathan said that globalisation will work better when African countries take greater advantage of their human and natural resources to enhance their ability to compete effectively with other regions in world trade.

The President also expressed the view that Africa’s competitiveness could be further boosted through increased regional trade and horizontal investment partnerships.

In attendance was the new Ambassador of Czech Republic to Nigeria, Mr. Pavel Mikes, as well as the new Ambassador of Republic of Kuwait to Nigeria, Mr.  Abdulla Ahmed Al-Sharrah and the new Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Perry Calderwood, who all presented their letters of credence to President Jonathan emphasised the need for partnerships that can boost the economies of Nigeria and other African nations.

The President pointed out that the growing youth population in Africa was an advantage for the continent, saying that Africa’s largely youthful population gives the continent a competitive edge over other parts of the world by providing a vast labour pool for investors and a huge market for products and services.

He congratulated all the new ambassadors on their posting to Nigeria and wished them success in their efforts to boost bilateral relations between Nigeria and their countries.

The ambassadors thanked President Jonathan for receiving them and assured him that they will work hard to further enhance existing trade, economic and cultural cooperation between Nigeria and their countries.

 

African Leaders Call For U.N. Mandate For Mali Mission

West African leaders on Thursday called for a regional military operation against al Qaeda-linked rebels in north Mali to be transformed into a U.N. peacekeeping mission as quickly as possible to secure desperately needed funding.

France sent troops into its former colony last month to drive out Islamist fighters, claiming their seizure of Mali’s north last year posed a threat to international security.

Paris hopes that from March it can start withdrawing its 4,000 troops but is awaiting the effective deployment of an African force (AFISMA), plagued by logistical and financing setbacks.

Meeting in Ivory Coast’s capital Yamoussoukro, presidents from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS backed calls from France, the United States and Mali itself for the mission to receive a U.N. peacekeeping mandate.

“This shouldn’t distract from ongoing operations on the ground,” ECOWAS commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told Reuters.

“It’s simply an indication that, once peace has returned, we need the support of the United Nations system both for logistical and financial support.”

Some two thirds of the 8,000 troops of the African-led mission (AFISMA) have deployed to Mali.

Many still lack the capacity to carry out combat operations and remain in southern Mali, leaving French forces and around 2,000 troops from Chad to secure northern towns and hunt down Islamist fighters hiding in desert and mountain redoubts.

After struggling for months to secure funding for its deployment, international donors pledged over $455 million for Mali at a meeting in Addis Ababa last month.

With the number of troops more than doubling since deployment plans were first hashed out last year, ECOWAS projects the cost of the mission at nearly $1 billion this year.

Transformation to a peacekeeping mission would ensure funding from the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and facilitate the deployment of air assets essential for moving troops in Mali’s vast northern desert.

However, a decision by the U.N. Security Council remains weeks, if not months, away. France’s U.N. envoy said on Wednesday that the Security Council would ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report by end-March on the possibility of creating a peacekeeping force.

Despite the rapid French advance which has seen the Islamists’ former urban strongholds rapidly retaken, security on the ground in Mali remains tenuous, amid a mounting wave of guerilla raids on towns and suicide attacks.

French and Chadian forces are currently hunting die-hard Islamists holed up in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains. Algerian television reported on Thursday that French troops there had killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a leading al Qaeda field commander.