Coup: African Union Suspends Guinea

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Guinea’s ruling military came under diplomatic pressure on Friday as the African Union suspended the country over last weekend’s coup and West African envoys arrived to mediate in the crisis.

The regional bloc ECOWAS had already suspended Guinea after special forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized power on Sunday and arrested president Alpha Conde.

On Friday, the African Union (AU) followed suit, tweeting that it had decided “to suspend the Republic of Guinea from all AU activities and decision-making bodies.”

Mediators from ECOWAS — the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States — also landed in the capital Conakry on Friday, AFP journalists saw.

ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou is part of the delegation, as are the Nigerian, Ghanaian, Burkinabe and Togolese foreign ministers.

Coup leader Doumbouya met the envoys at a hotel in Conakry on Friday afternoon. The delegation, which is also due to meet Conde, is set to Guinea leave the same evening.

Increasing pressure on Guinea comes amid rising fears of democratic backsliding across West Africa, where strongmen are an increasingly familiar sight.

Guinea’s putsch has drawn parallels with its neighbour Mali, which has suffered two coups since August last year led by Colonel Assimi Goita, who was also a special forces commander.

Condemnation 

A screen grab taken from footage sent to AFP by a military source on September 5, 2021 shows the President of Guinea Conakry Alpha Conde after he was captured by army putschists during a coup d’etat in Conakry on September 5, 2021. (Photo by – / MILITARY SOURCE / AFP)

 

On Wednesday, ECOWAS called for Conde’s “immediate and unconditional release.”

It also urged “the immediate return to constitutional order” and demanded that the security forces “maintain a constitutional posture.”

The US embassy in Conakry on Friday stated that Guinea should “immediately restore democracy.”

Guinea’s putschists have formed a junta named the CNRD, which has dissolved the government and the constitution.

Doumbouya appeared on television hours after the coup and accused the Conde government of “endemic corruption” and of “trampling on citizens’ rights”.

He has pledged to open talks on forming a new government, but it is not yet clear when, or under what form, these may take place.

When faced with a similar predicament in Mali last year, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on the country, but lifted them after Mali’s ruling military committed to restoring civilian rule.

RELATED: UN Chief Condemns Military ‘Takeover’ In Guinea, Demands President’s Release

 ‘Bury Democracy’ 

File photo: People celebrate in the streets with members of Guinea’s armed forces after the arrest of Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde, in a coup d’etat in Conakry, September 5, 2021 CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Public discontent in Guinea had been brewing for months over a flatlining Covid-hit economy and the leadership of Conde, who became the first democratically elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

But last year, Conde pushed through a new constitution enabling him to run for a third term in October 2020.

The move sparked mass demonstrations in which dozens of protesters were killed. Conde won the election but the political opposition maintained the poll was a sham.

After the coup, the junta freed about 80 political activists detained under Conde and banned ex-ministers from leaving the country.

On Thursday, it also said it had temporarily frozen ex-ministers’ bank accounts.

Coup leader Doumbouya has nonetheless promised there will be no “witch hunt” against members of the former regime.

The military has also guaranteed the safety of Conde, whose whereabouts are unknown.

The coup was greeted with jubilation in some parts of Conakry, where residents in some districts came flooded the streets to applaud the soldiers.

But Conde supporters are bitter. Victor Leno, a schoolteacher and a member of Conde’s RPG party, said that “in one day, the military really came and buried this beautiful democracy”.

An RPG spokesman Mahmoudou Traore warned against trusting the military’s promises of a transition.

“They will stay in power for five, six (or) seven years,” he predicted.

Aluminium Shock

Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite its abundant reserves of minerals including iron ore, gold and diamonds.

The former French colony also has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, the primary source of aluminium. Mining is the driver of the economy.

News of the coup sent the price of aluminium soaring to its highest level in 13 years this week, and triggered concern about the commodity supply chain among businesses.

Doumbouya has pledged continuity in the mining sector and said this week that Guinea will “uphold all its undertakings (and) mining agreements”.

AFP

African Union Seeks Restoration Of Civilian Rule In Chad

The son of the late Chadian president Idriss Deby, general Mahamat Idriss Deby (R), attend the state funeral for the late Chadian president Idriss Deby in N'Djamena on April 23, 2021. Issouf SANOGO / AFP
The son of the late Chadian president Idriss Deby, general Mahamat Idriss Deby (R), attend the state funeral for the late Chadian president Idriss Deby in N’Djamena on April 23, 2021. Issouf SANOGO / AFP

 

The African Union on Friday urged the restoration of civilian rule in Chad after veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno’s son, a general, took charge following his father’s death fighting rebels. 

The AU’s 15-member security body, the Peace and Security Council, voiced “grave concern” over the establishment of a military council headed by 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Deby.

The elder Deby, who had ruled the vast semi-desert state with an iron fist for 30 years, died from wounds sustained in battle at the weekend.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Warily Eyes Border After Chad Leader’s Death

His death has stunned ally and former colonial ruler France, which has relied on Chad in its campaign against a jihadist revolt in the Sahel region.

Chad staged a state funeral for Deby on Friday that was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called on the newly-appointed military government to foster “stability, inclusion, dialogue, democratic transition”.

Chad’s parliament and government have been dissolved, allowing Mahamat Idriss Deby to wield full powers.

He has promised “free and democratic” elections after an 18-month transition period that can be extended once.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council met to discuss the situation Chad on Thursday but waited to issue its statement until after Friday’s funeral.

It urged Chad’s security forces “to respect the constitutional mandate and order, and to expeditiously embark on a process of restoration of constitutional order and handing over of political power to the civilian authorities.”

The statement also called for “an all-inclusive national dialogue” and said the African Union Commission, headed by Chadian former prime minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, should send a fact-finding mission to the country.

The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel group, which crossed into Chad from Libya, has vowed to pursue its offensive after a pause for the funeral.

Friday’s AU statement said conditions on the ground posed a potential threat to Chad, its neighbours and the entire continent.

 

AFP

COVID-19: Africa’s Disease Control Agency Says Nations Must Act Fast For Vaccines

File photo: Customers stand in a queue outside Makro in Pretoria East on March 24, 2020. – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on March 23, 2020 announced a 21-day national lockdown to start later this week to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus which has affected more than 400 people and ordered the military to enforce the ban. Phill Magakoe / AFP.

 

African governments must take urgent steps to prepare for distribution of coronavirus vaccines, the continent’s health watchdog said Thursday, after the African Union announced it had secured 270 million doses.

“We cannot wait. This is not a polio or measles vaccination. We have to do it quick. Our economies are down, our people are dying,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told a press conference.

“There’s absolutely no reason for accelerated preparations not to occur,” he added.

READ ALSO: WHO Tackles New Strains As China Logs First COVID-19 Death In 8 Months

The African Union (AU) deal announced Wednesday is intended to benefit countries unable to finance their own immunisation campaigns.

Governments will be able to make financing arrangements through the African Export-Import Bank that could allow for instalment payments over a five-year period.

The doses — to be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — will complement vaccines secured via Covax, the globally-pooled vaccine procurement and distribution effort.

At least 50 million doses secured under the AU deal are expected to be available from April through June.

But Nkengasong said member states needed to act fast to organise storage sites in major cities, train health workers, secure supplies like needles and create effective systems to record who has received doses.

He said governments would be able to start ordering vaccines through an AU platform in the coming days.

Africa has recorded around 3.1 million Covid-19 cases, or 3.5 percent of the global total, and around 75,000 deaths, or 2.4 percent of the global total, according to Africa CDC data.

But there has been an average weekly increase in cases of 18 percent over the past month, with significant rises in southern and western Africa in particular.

Roughly 30,000 new cases are being recorded across Africa each day, compared to 18,000 during the continent’s first wave last year, Nkengasong said.

– New strains –
Potentially fuelling the spread are new virus strains, including one dubbed 501Y.V2 which emerged in South Africa.

The Africa director of the World Health Organization, Matshidiso Moeti, said that “being confronted with new variants of the virus is not surprising, however some of these changes are concerning.”

The 501Y.V2 variant, which recent studies have indicated could be more transmissible, has also been detected in Botswana, The Gambia and Zambia.

“And quite frankly, we believe it could be present in more countries than that,” Moeti told an online press briefing on Thursday.

Twelve laboratories collaborating across the continent have already sequenced 5,000 samples of the virus, an important undertaking to detect potential new strains, and how dangerous and quickly they spread.

Another variant has been detected in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 200 million people.

But more research is needed to “identify if it is in association with any changes in circulation or mortality rate of the virus,” said Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The Africa CDC has set a target of vaccinating 60 percent of Africans against Covid-19 in 2021 and 2022.

African Union Condemns Arrest Of Malian President, PM

In this file photo taken on June 30, 2020 Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita poses for a photo during the G5 Sahel summit in Nouakchott. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 30, 2020, Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita poses for a photo during the G5 Sahel summit in Nouakchott. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

The African Union on Tuesday condemned the arrest of Mali’s political leaders by mutineering troops and demanded they be freed immediately.

“I forcefully condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister (Boubou Cisse) and other members of the Malian government, and call for their immediate release,” the chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a tweet in French.

He also condemned “any attempt at unconstitutional change” while urging the mutineers to “cease all use of violence”.

 

 

Faki called on the 15-nation West African ECOWAS bloc, the United Nations and the entire international community to “combine their efforts to oppose any use of force to end the political crisis in Mali”.

One of the leaders of the mutineering soldiers told AFP that “the president and the prime minister are under our control” after being “arrested” at Keita’s residence in the capital Bamako.

Keita and Cisse are now being held in an army base in the town of Kati, an official at the prime minister’s office said.

Their arrest comes after months of protests calling for Keita’s arrest that have rocked the crisis-torn country.

 

AFP

Jonathan, AU Mourn Death Of Former Prime Minister Of Togo, Edem Kodjo

 

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has reacted to the death of Ex-Prime Minister of Togo, Edem Kodjo.

Kodjo died over the weekend in Paris at the age of 82, the cause of his death was not disclosed.

In his reaction to the demise, Dr Jonathan shared a post on his Twitter page, offering his condolences to the government of Togo and the family of the Ex-Prime Minister.

“I offer my deepest condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Togo over the death of H.E. Edem Kodjo, former Secretary-General of the African Union and ex-Prime Minister of Togo.

READ ALSO: Ex-Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala Gets IMF Appointment

“He will continue to live in the hearts and minds of his compatriots as Togo’s foremost reformist and statesman who helped carve a democratic path for his country,” Dr Jonathan wrote.

Similarly the African Union Chairperson, Moussa Mahamat in a statement offered his condolences to the family of the deceased and Togolese people.

Mr Mahamat said he learned with immense pain of the departure of the great Pan-Africanist and former Secretary General of the Organization.

He described Mr Kodjo as a brilliant African intellectual and distinguished statesman and tireless knight of peace.

“In this painful circumstance, the President of the African Union Commission, on behalf of all the staff of the Continental Organization in whose service, Edem Kodjo, has sacrificed a lot, and in his personal name, expresses his most sincere and deep condolences to his family, the Togolese people and all the African peoples.

“May his soul rest in peace and may his example continue to inspire the continent,” the African Union Chairperson’s statement read.

AU Chief Flags Disputes Over Gay Rights, Justice In EU Talks

 

The African Union chief on Thursday highlighted “differences” over topics such as international justice and gay rights at a meeting with the European Union intended to deepen the partnership between the two continents.

Thursday’s talks marked the second visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital in less than three months.

“Certainly, we have our differences. International criminal justice, sexual orientation and identity, the death penalty, the centrality of the African Union in certain crises, etcetera,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, said in remarks opening a meeting between AU and EU leaders.

Calling these differences “normal”, Faki said they could be overcome only with “recognition and acceptance”.

In December von der Leyen chose to visit the AU on her first trip outside Europe after taking her post, a decision she said at the time was intended to send a “strong political message” about Europe’s partnership with Africa.

Von der Leyen is in the process of preparing a new “Africa Strategy” for the EU, due to be unveiled in early March.

In her own remarks Thursday, she said the two continents were “natural partners” and stressed areas of cooperation like trade and the fight against climate change.

Later at a press conference she said she believed the two blocs could work through the disagreements Faki had pointed out.

“This is what the essence of a good partnership and a good friendship is. You build on a solid foundation with common projects you can work on, and you’re able to mark very clearly where differences are,” she said. “We try to convince but we acknowledge that there are different positions.”

“We should not follow the notion of expecting the African Union to adapt to the European Union,” she added.

The majority of African countries criminalise same-sex sexual acts.

Various African countries have resisted efforts to try African leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2017, Burundi became the first country to pull out of the court altogether.

-Contrasts with China-

Europe was expected to use Thursday’s talks to promote trade and economic cooperation in response to “the flood of Chinese investment in the continent”, said Mikaela Gavas, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, an international non-profit foundation.

But the question of human rights remains a major potential barrier to deeper cooperation, Gavas said.

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights,” she said.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs minister, drew a distinction between European and Chinese engagement in Africa, saying that China “gives nothing” while Europe is “a big donor”.

“We have a development vision that’s different from the Chinese vision,” he told AFP, adding that EU leaders stressed political freedoms, human rights and other topics to which the Chinese are “not as attentive”.

Borrell was set to stay on in Ethiopia Friday to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is trying to steer the country toward landmark elections in August.

He will then head to Sudan, which is going through its own transition after longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled last year.

“Ethiopia and Sudan are two big lights of hope” for Europe, Borrell said. “We have a great interest that the Ethiopian and Sudanese experiences do not shatter.”

AFP

African Health System Ill-Equipped To Handle Coronavirus Outbreak – WHO

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference following a WHO Emergency committee to discuss whether the Coronavirus, the SARS-like virus, outbreak that began in China constitutes an international health emergency, on January 30, 2020 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference following a WHO Emergency committee to discuss whether the Coronavirus, the SARS-like virus, outbreak that began in China constitutes an international health emergency, on January 30, 2020 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

The World Health Organization warned Saturday that African health systems would be ill-equipped to respond to the deadly coronavirus outbreak should cases start to proliferate on the continent. 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on African Union member states “to come together to be more aggressive in attacking” the virus, known as COVID-19.

“Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for COVID-19 to spread in countries with weaker health systems,” Tedros, speaking by video link from Geneva, said during a meeting of African health ministers at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

READ ALSO: Second Coronavirus Death Sparks Fears, Lockdown In Italian Towns

The outbreak which began in December has already killed more than 2,200 people and infected more than 75,500 in China.

More than 1,150 people have also been infected outside China, although Egypt is the only African country to have recorded a confirmed case.

There have been more than 200 suspected cases in the WHO’s AFRO region, which includes most African countries, though nearly all have been confirmed negative, regional director Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti said Saturday.

But if COVID-19 starts to spread on the continent, African health systems will struggle to treat patients suffering from symptoms such as respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, WHO’s Tedros said.

“These patients require intensive care using equipment such as respiratory support machines that are, as you know, in short supply in many African countries and that’s a cause for concern,” he said.

AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told officials to take “drastic preventive and control measures”.

“Our dear continent, Africa, is particularly at risk, given its relatively fragile health systems,” he said.

African countries have been scrambling to develop the capacity to test for COVID-19.

In three weeks, the number of African countries capable of conducting their own tests has jumped from two to 26, Moeti said.

Several African airlines including Kenya Airways have suspended flights to China, although the continent’s biggest carrier Ethiopian Airlines has kept its China routes open.

Liu Yuxi, China’s ambassador to the AU, on Saturday urged officials to ease travel restrictions

“I hope that everyone will stay calm and objective. Excessive panic could actually increase the disease,” he said.

“It is in adversity and really difficult times that you really get to know your friends.”

AFP

War Dominates Africa Summit As Leaders Vow Libya Support

(L-R front row) Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Antonio Guterres United Nations Secretary-General observe a moment of silence for Kenya’s former President, Daniel Arap Moi, at the opening of the African heads of States at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa on February 9, 2020.  AFP

 

African Union leaders vowed on Monday to push peace efforts in Libya, a sign of the bloc’s desire to play a bigger role in resolving the continent’s conflicts.

The AU leadership has complained about being overlooked in Libya-related peacemaking efforts, which have been led primarily by the UN and heavily involved European nations.

As the 55-member group wrapped up a summit, Smail Chergui, the AU’s Peace and Security Council chief, offered assistance to revive Libya’s faltering peace process.

“It’s (the) UN itself which needs us now,” Chergui said. “It’s time to bring this situation to an end… the two organisations should work hand-in-hand for that goal,” he added.

Libya has been torn by fighting between rival factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over as AU chair on Sunday, has said Libya is one of two conflicts he wants to focus on during his tenure.

The other is South Sudan, where a civil war that began in 2013 has left hundreds of thousands dead — but talks on the sidelines of the AU summit ended in deadlock.

The two-day summit ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with the traditional closing session and press conference cancelled. The decisions adopted were expected to be announced later Tuesday.

 Divisions and disagreements 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he understood the AU’s “frustration” at having “been put aside” when it comes to Libya.

The North African state remains in chaos, mostly split between strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, and the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

Talks between Libya’s warring factions ended on Saturday with no deal on a ceasefire. The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for February 18.

Chergui said the AU could support peace if a cessation of hostilities agreement is finally signed, declaring the AU wanted to be part of an observer mission to ensure any deal is respected.

“This is an African problem, and we have a certain sense that maybe others do not have,” Chergui said.

Despite AU optimism, analysts are sceptical.

Observers pointed out that the AU will need to overcome financial constraints and internal divisions if it wants to achieve its goal of “Silencing the Guns” — the theme of summit talks.

“The AU bandwidth on Libya cannot in any way be compared to the UN’s involvement, just in simple terms of knowledge and presence on the ground,” said Claudia Gazzini, from the International Crisis Group think-tank.

 A tough line on South Sudan 

Meanwhile, on South Sudan, leaders tried to bring longtime rivals together to reach a deal.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar face a deadline of February 22 to form a unity government — a milestone that was delayed twice last year.

Ramaphosa met separately with Kiir and Machar on Saturday, and the rivals sat down in the same room Sunday alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

Hamdok is the current chair of the eight-member East African bloc IGAD, which has taken the lead in South Sudan peace negotiations.

But the flurry of activity on the sidelines of the AU summit did not result in a breakthrough in the dispute over the number of regional states in South Sudan — a contentious issue as the borders will set out divisions of power and control in the young country.

IGAD said that despite the lack of progress to date there could be no more delays in forming a power-sharing government.

AFP

We Will Ensure Adequate Resources For Research And Development, Buhari Assures

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, affirmed that Nigeria recognizes the centrality of science and technology in the development process and will ensure adequate resource allocation for research and development.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) organized by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo in his capacity as Chairperson, President Buhari said technology is aiding Nigeria’s advancement in critical sectors of the economy.

He noted that his administration was conscious of the relevance of science and technology in national development and as such has a ministry dedicated to the sector, which is headed by a scientist.

‘‘We are concentrating on encouraging our students, at the primary and post-primary levels, to love and study more of science-related subjects rather than arts, political science, and history,’’ the Nigerian leader said at the meeting on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit.

READ ALSO: AU Summit: Security Gets Boost As Buhari, Mbasogo, Others Inaugurate CISSA Headquarters

The President acknowledged that while finding resources to fund science and technology-related ventures could be a challenge, Nigeria was aware of the huge benefits and will continue to do her best to ensure adequate resource allocation for research and development.

In his remarks, the Ghanaian President said as an inter-governmental organization made up of 27 member states, COMSATS was playing a leading role in cultivating an enhanced culture of scientific and technological cooperation among member states.

He said the body was achieving this objective through capacity building, education, research, and development

Contributing to an open discussion at the meeting, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, who is part of the Nigerian President’s entourage to Ethiopia, called on the body to structure its operations in a way that creates ‘‘centres of excellence’’ in member states.

Ayade said such centres will help in education, training, and research for citizens of participating countries in specific fields and vocations of science and technology.

resident Buhari attends Breakfast Meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South in Addis Ababa on 9th Feb 2020
President Buhari with Vice President of Gambia, Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Executive Director COMSATs Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and other dignitaries during the Breakfast Meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South in Addis Ababa on 9th Feb 2020.
President Buhari with Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo and Executive Director COMSATs Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi during the Breakfast Meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South in Addis Ababa on 9th Feb 2020.

 

Buhari Arrives In Addis Ababa For AU Summit

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Ethiopia for the 33rd Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).

The President’s aircraft touched down in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital city on Friday evening hours after he left Abuja.

He was received by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the North African country, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, among others.

Earlier, the Presidency in a statement said President Buhari would be with other leaders from the 55-country organisation for the AU Summit with the theme, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

During the summit, the Nigerian leader would take part in the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the 27th Session of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (AUDA-NEPAD).

The meetings, according to the statement, will precede the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly.

“In Nigeria’s capacity as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council, President Buhari will participate in the High-Level meeting of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in the Sahel and Libya, and High-Level Ad-Hoc Committee on South Sudan,” his spokesman Garba Shehu said.

On the margins of the summit, the President would deliver a keynote speech at a High-Level Side Event on “Stop the War on Children: Dividend of Silencing the Guns.”

He would also hold bilateral meetings with several leaders and begin a state visit to Ethiopia on February 11, at the invitation of Mr Ahmed.

President Buhari travelled to Ethiopia in company with Governors Ben Ayade and Hope Uzodinma of Cross River and Imo States.

The chairmen of the Committees on Foreign Affairs in the Senate and House of Representatives, Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa and Yusuf Baba, were also part of the leaders accompanying the President.

Ministers on his entourage are Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), Hadi Sirika (Aviation), Niyi Adebayo (Industry, Trade, and Investment), Retired Major-General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Defence), and Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture).

Other government officials are the National Security Adviser (NSA), Retired Major-General Babagana Monguno; the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar; and the National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD (Nigeria), Gloria Akobundu.

Xenophobia: Obasanjo Asks Nigeria, Others To Report South Africa To AU

Obasanjo Encourages Women To Participate More In Politics
A file photo of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africa citizens living in South Africa.

In a letter to the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the elder statesman urged countries whose citizens were affected to table appropriate motions at the African Union (AU) and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue.

He condemned the situation where any African country encourages or fails to seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country.

Obasanjo described such as a great disservice not only to the country xenophobic attacks take place and the countries of the victims concerned but also to the whole of Africa and black race.

He said there was a need for fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia in the country.

The former president, therefore, asked South African authorities to send emissaries to the countries concerned to explain, apologise and agree on the way forward for mutual understanding.

He also noted that repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa was not a permanent solution to the crisis, neither was revenge a desirable way out.

Obasanjo challenged Nigeria and South Africa to stand together to champion African cause and jointly shepherd African development, unity, cooperation, security, and progress to make the 21st century Africa’s century.

 

…………

September 12, 2019

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP,

President Emeritus: Inkatha Freedom Party,

Office of the President Emeritus,

2 Durban Club, Place,

Durban 4001, South Africa.

I thank you for your very kind and thoughtful letter of September 11, 2019, and I appreciate the honour done me by specially writing me a letter on a very unfortunate and sad incident of xenophobia in South Africa. I also take note of your statements and other communications made in South Africa by you on the same issue.

The xenophobia or Afrophobia going on in South Africa is an unfortunate issue for South Africa and for the whole of Africa. It is unfortunate in many respects. There are only two countries in Africa that have ‘Africa’ as part of their names: Central Africa Republic and Republic of South Africa. For any of these two countries and, I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.

I want to thank you, my dear senior brother, for the statement you made to alert leaders and ordinary people of South Africa to appreciate that turning a blind eye and not making a very strong statement of condemnation or taking a very strong stand against xenophobia is encouraging xenophobia or being an accomplice in xenophobia and/or Afrophobia.

I also want to thank you for referring in the same statement to Nigeria’s contribution and my own personal contribution to the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa. I must also commend others in South Africa who have taken a similar position in the overall interest of Africa.

We, in Nigeria, if I may speak particularly for Nigeria, did all that we did for liberation in different parts of Africa, particularly in Southern Africa, including getting rid of apartheid in South Africa because we believed it was our obligatory duty to do so as Africans.

We, as black people, believed and still believe that we would be second-class citizens in the world if we allowed any black people anywhere in the world, not to talk of Africa, to be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin without fighting against it.

It is because of our belief in human dignity generally and especially afro dignity. We were motivated and goaded by principle and not by possession, position or praises.  We were not doing it to get any reward or material benefit as such.

We were doing it because we were convinced that it was our duty, our responsibility and our obligation to humanity and to the black race. That is why we, in Nigeria, in spite of our distance from the frontline of the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa, we became, in terms of our participation, contribution, commitment and sacrifice, members of the frontline States.

Whether that is recognised and appreciated or not, we really don’t mind as we believe we have done our duty as we ought to have done, and if occasion occurs in future where we need to open our doors, out of our humanity and Africanity, for people in similar situation of need as happened to people in Southern Africa and South Africa, we will do it again as we did in the past.

However, we believe that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends. If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime which will mean applying judicial process.

Moreover, the South African police and other law enforcement agencies must uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of South Africa, which stipulate that, “The South African Police Service has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa, prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community, investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community, ensure criminals are brought to justice and participate in efforts to address the causes of crime.”

Where the Police would stand aloof watching miscreants and criminals committing crimes against fellow human beings is condemnable and not acceptable in any civilised society. This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the Police.

The best way to fight crime is to achieve close to full employment in a society and not through xenophobia. Anybody who can deny xenophobia in South Africa of today can deny that my mother is a woman. It should not be a game of denial but rather a game of accepting reality and working at it, together with the rest of Africa where necessary.

Countries in Africa are not just transit for drugs from sources in Latin America and Asia to consuming populations in North America and Europe, but these countries in Southern Africa and West Africa are also falling victims as consumers and producers.

It requires collaboration of producing regions and countries working with transit regions and countries and consuming regions and countries to deal effectively with the menace of drugs as established by West Africa Commission on Drugs, WACD.

As it is being touted that xenophobia will give South Africans jobs, I dare say, it is fallacy. Xenophobia will make investment in South Africa a little bit more difficult which will lead to lack of job creation and loss of existing jobs.

It should also be realised that most migrants did not migrate out of their country to other countries with total emptiness. Some have education, skills, experience, expertise, entrepreneurship and sheer guts which they can bring to bear on the economy of the country they have migrated to. What has helped most developed countries in the world is openness and receiving migrants with open hands and open minds. In any case, all of us in the world are migrants, no matter where we live, depending only on how far back you want to go.

I, once again, thank you for the position you have taken and I hope that your statement will ring bells in the minds of leaders and ordinary South Africans to know that they are living in Africa where rightly South Africa should be one of the countries to play leadership role in Africa.

But if xenophobia is encouraged, South Africa will not earn the role of leadership which can only be granted and conferred by the rest of Africa because leadership requires certain amount of sacrifice and attitude of understanding, compassion, kindness, brotherhood and hospitality. These are normal African virtues and attributes which South Africa must imbibe.

The lessons to be learned from all this is that our individual countries in Africa must have programmes that will provide livelihoods for their teeming youth population to discourage youths from embarking on hazardous journeys to places where their lives will be in danger all in search of greener pastures that may never be there. Our youth too must learn that when they are in any country, they must be law-abiding and be actively productive members of their host country.

At this juncture, there is need for fence-mending, reconciliation and wound-binding between South Africa and the countries whose citizens have been victims of xenophobia and Afrophobia in South Africa. As a suggestion, South Africa should send emissaries to the countries concerned to explain, apologise and agree on the way forward for mutual understanding, accommodation, reconciliation, and binding the wound to promote unity, concord, and brotherhood in Africa. Repatriation of Nigerians from South Africa is obviously not a permanent solution.

At best it is palliative. But the hurt will still remain for some time.  Neither is revenge a desirable solution. Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what needs to be done on all sides are imperative and getting down to doing them is the solution that will serve Nigeria and South Africa and indeed Africa well particularly in this era of Africa Continental Free Trade Area opportunities.

Nigeria and South Africa must stand together to champion African cause and to jointly shepherd African development, unity, cooperation, security, and progress to make the 21st century Africa’s century.

In the final analysis, if South Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation with the countries concerned to put an end to xenophobia, the concerned countries of the victims should come together to table appropriate motions at the AU level first and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue.

Dear senior brother, please accept the assurances of my highest consideration for your good health and wellbeing.

Olusegun Obasanjo.

Buhari Arrives Niamey Ahead Of AU Summit

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Niger for the 12th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government.

President Buhari departed the country on Saturday morning to join other African leaders.

The Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union is expected to launch the operational instruments of the Agreement establishing AfCFTA, which Nigeria is expected to sign.

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Prior to the Summit, the Buhari Administration had embarked on extensive consultations with stakeholders, culminating in the submission of the report by the Presidential Committee to Assess Impact and Readiness of Nigeria to join the AfCFTA.

The committee had recommended that Nigeria should sign the Agreement which aims to boost intra-African trade.