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.

Buhari Chairs Peace And Security Council Meeting At AU Summit

Muhammadu-Buhari-In-South-Africa-for-AU-Summit-Peace-MeetingPresident 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.

For over five years, Nigeria has been making efforts to contain insurgency in the oil-rich nation’s north-east perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

President Buhari drew the attention of the meeting to the challenges in Nigeria’s north-east which he said had affected neighbouring countries.

“Boko Haram has extended its reach to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, which makes it not limited to Nigeria.

“I am pleased to note that Cameroon, Chad and Niger are fighting side by side with Nigeria under the umbrella of the Multi-National Joint Task Force to defeat Boko Haram,” he said.

The meeting also discussed the crises in South Sudan and Burundi, with emphasis on the need for leaders of African countries to place the nation’s interest above their personal interest.

At the meeting were the UN Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, Chairperson of African Union (AU) Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,  AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and Ambassador Smail Chergui among others.Muhammadu-Buhari-At-AU-Summit

President Buhari will also hold bilateral talks with other African leaders on the sidelines of the summit to consolidate his ongoing drive to secure Nigeria and neighbouring countries from Boko Haram,” the statement read.

The Nigerian leader in his inaugural speech on May 29 made a strong commitment to ending the insurgency in the north-east.

President Buhari is due back in Abuja on Tuesday at the conclusion of the summit which will focus mainly on continental peace and security.

Nigeria’s security challenges topped the “wish list” that  President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the G7 industrialised countries in meetings held between him and heads of governments at the summit of the group in Germany.

He participated in the G7 Outreach program for invited heads of government and global institutions.

The Nigerian President had also visited the Presidents of Chad and Niger Republic on his first trip outside the country after his May 29 inauguration. His mission was also to discuss security matters.


ECOWAS, AU Election Observers Commend Nigerians, INEC, Security Agencies

ECOWASElection observers from the Economic Community Of West African States – ECOWAS and the African Union – AU, have described Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections held on Saturday as transparent, successful and credible.

Both groups led by former presidents of Ghana and Liberia, Mr John Kufuor and Mr Amos Sawyer, said that the process so far meets basic criteria and standards for democratic elections in the region and around the world, despite the initial hiccups encountered.

They said that the commendable performance of the electoral officials, the impartial and exemplary coordination of security agencies and the high turnout and commitment of the voters far outweighed the challenges with election materials and security in some places.

Head of the African Union Observer Mission, Mr Amos Sawyer of Liberia, said that despite the initial problems with elections materials, isolated cases of violence in Bayelsa and Enugu states and extended elections in 350 polling units, the mission considers the process a success.

With 250 observers deployed through five regions excluding the north east, the head of the ECOWAS mission, former Ghanaian President, Mr John Kuffor, said Nigerian citizens, the electoral commission and the security agencies have done a good job so far.

He, however, said that they hoped the use of soldiers would be a one-off incidence.

The presidential and parliamentary elections of March 28 in Nigeria were marked by challenges of late arrival of election materials, as well as the failure of newly introduced card readers in many polling units across the country but these did not discourage Nigerians from exercising their franchise.

The perseverance and peaceful conduct of Nigerian voters has become one of the positive highlights of the elections.

AU Deploys Election Observers To North East

AUThe African Union (AU) has deployed 84 election observers to various parts of the country, including the north-east to monitor the general ‎elections.

Head of the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) and former President of the interim government of Liberia, Professor Amos Sawyer also asked Nigerians to come out en masse to exercise their rights.

While appealing for caution by all parties involved in the electoral process, he called on politicians to accept defeat or channel their grievances ‎to the law courts.

Jonathan Meets Presidents Of Congo, Equatorial Guinea

presidentPresident Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria on Monday met with the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso and the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo and held discussions on issues of common interest to the countries.

The visit by the two Presidents is a consolidation of a decision made by the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), during their summit in Yaunde, Cameroon, on February 16.

The three Presidents reviewed the current security challenges facing some countries of the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) and Central African Regions, especially terrorism and the menace of the insurgency by Boko Haram.

They unequivocally condemned the insurgency, its destructive activities such as indiscriminate killing of people, the wanton destruction of property, the abduction of innocent women and children, especially young school girls, who had been turned to sex slaves.

The Presidents underscored the imperative of a multi-prolonged approach to fighting the terrorist group and in particular, commended the initiative of the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), for a Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), to combat the Boko Haram insurgency.

They welcomed the active support of the international community, especially the African Union, the United Nations and other partners, for the efforts of the LCBC and the Benin Republic to enable the earliest deployment of the MNJTF.

While underscoring the fact that the MNJTF is wholly owned and driven by the member states of the LCBC, they urged the international community to render necessary material, financial support and assistance to its on-going efforts.

The three Presidents welcomed the proposal to have a joint summit of the ECOWAS and ECCAS to further mobilise international support for the MNJTF.

President Jonathan promised to contact the ECOWAS chairman on the proposal while the visiting presidents promised to relay the positive outcome of the meeting to the other Heads of States and government of the ECCAS.

ECOWAS Asks Nigeria’s Presidential Candidates To Respect Constitution

GHANA-CEDEAO-KUFUORThe Economic Communities Of West African States (ECOWAS) has appealed to Nigerians and all the major gladiators in the Nigeria’s presidential election to be calm and show understanding and respect to the constitution, as the oil rich nation prepares for its general elections.

The President of the ECOWAS, Mr Kadre Ouedraogo, made the appeal at a meeting with Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, in Abuja on Monday.

At the meeting, Mr Ouedraogo presented a document he called the findings and recommendations of the commission towards a peaceful conduct of elections to President Jonathan.

According to him, the ECOWAS has been monitoring situation in Nigeria following the postponement of the election date and has been meeting with the major presidential candidates to intimate them on their findings.

The meeting with the ECOWAS President came after President Jonathan had met with the European Union observer group led by Mr Santiago Fisas.

President Jonathan assured the group that the May 29 handover date was sacrosanct.

The leader of the EU election observer group, Mr Santiago Fisas, told reporters that they were in the presidential villa to exchange views with the president about the elections.

He said that the group had met with the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Mohammadu Buhari.

The president also told the EU commission that there was no room for interim National government as being speculated in some quarters saying that those who are talking about that were just being mischievous.

“That is not the agenda of government,” president Jonathan said.

President Jonathan was apparently referring to a statement made by a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, about a plan for an interim government.

Addressing a gathering in Ogun State, after he withdrew his membership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party,  Obasanjo said: “Anybody in his right senses talks of interim government. Where is it in our constitution? But some of them are working for it. God will not allow them”. 

Ex-Chad President Hissene Habre To Face Trial In Senegal

habreFormer Chadian President, Hissene Habre, will face trial in Senegal for alleged war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity.

Judges at the Extraordinary African Chamber said that there is sufficient evidence against Mr Habre, who is in custody in Senegal.

The court was set up by Senegal and the African Union to try Mr Habre after his arrest in 2013. His trial will mean the first use of universal jurisdiction in Africa.

72-year-old Habre is accused of thousands of political killings during his 1982-1990 presidency, which ended when he was deposed by the current Chadian President, Idriss Deby.

He denies the charges and has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court.

A political prisoner during Mr Habre’s rule, Clement Abaifouta, said, “We are finally going to be able to confront our main tormentor and regain our dignity as human beings.”

The decision to try Habre was made by a panel of four judges who carried out 19 months of investigation, including in Chad, interviewing about 2,500 witnesses and victims, according to Human Rights Watch.

Habre doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the court and refused to participate in the proceedings, Human Rights Watch said.

HRW lawyer, Reed Brody, said, “A fair and transparent trial for Hissene Habre would now demonstrate that courts in Africa can be empowered to provide justice for African victims of crimes committed in Africa.”

Army Deploys More Troops To Darfur

The Nigerian Army has deployed more troops to Darfur, the Sudanese capital on peace support operations, as part of commitment to the United Nations and African Union peace support operations in Africa.

The troops comprise of officers and men totalling 800 and are going to replace troops already on ground in Darfur.

The Commandant of the centre, Major General Salihu Uba said the troops have received the intensive training, hence their deployment to the United Nations peace operations in Darfur.

After undergoing the intensive training manned by the peacekeeping centre, the officers and men of the Nigerian army get signed off and a typical example of this routine are the officers deployed to Daufur.

The General Officer Commanding one Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Garba Wahab however warned the troops to abide by the rules of engagement and shun acts capable of tarnishing the image of Nigeria in Darfur.

This is not the first time the country is churning out military personnel on peace keeping operations abroad since its establishment in January 2009, the Nigerian army peace keeping centre has been mandated to provide quality training for troops earmarked for induction into peacekeeping missions to be camped four weeks, while received training in several military tactics in line with the mission, a training that will become useful while in action ahead Nigeria’s commitment with the United Nations and the African continent on peace support operations.

UN wants Africa’s Kony hunters fully equipped by year-end

The United Nations wants an African Union force hunting fugitive warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to be fully equipped by December, according to a U.N. strategy due to be presented to the world body’s Security Council on Wednesday.

The AU force, which has U.S. backing, aims to have a full strength of 5,000 troops from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda, but lacks equipment, training, food and transportation.

“These troops lack almost everything,” AU special envoy on the LRA Francisco Madeira told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

“They lack boots, they lack uniforms, they lack food rations and sometimes they lack training. So there is a need for these things to be supplied.”

Abou Moussa, U.N. special envoy and head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa, is slated to brief the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Wednesday on the U.N. regional strategy to address the threat and impact of the LRA.

The strategy, obtained by Reuters, requires U.N. countries and agencies to ensure the AU force is “adequately equipped, including with regard to air capabilities, communications, office and living accommodations, medical support, and fuel and rations, as soon as possible, and no later than December 2012.”

The Security Council is likely to release a statement endorsing the strategy on Wednesday, diplomats say.

Kony, accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for 20 years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. His LRA is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves, and of hacking off living victims’ limbs as a method of intimidation and revenge.


Malawi’s president will not attend AU summit

Malawi President Joyce Banda will not attend the African Union summit which was moved to Ethiopia after she said her country did not want to host Sudan’s leader, wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges.

Banda, president since April, has been trying to woo back overseas donors which froze hundreds of million of dollars of aid under her predecessor who picked fights with Western countries and was condemned for a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters.

A few weeks after taking office, she asked the African Union (AU) to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir taking part in the July summit, saying his visit to Malawi could damage the economy. .

As an International Criminal Court (ICC) member state, Malawi is supposed to arrest Bashir if he enters its territory.

The AU this week moved the meeting to the Ethiopian capital due to Malawi’s stand.

“I respect the decision of the African Union to move the summit from Lilongwe to Addis Ababa but I am not attending the meeting,” Banda told a news conference late on Thursday.

When asked whether she was protesting the AU decision to move the summit, rather than prevent Bashir from attending, she said: “My main agenda is to put Malawi on an economic recovery path and that’s what I am trying to do.”

The Sudanese leader visited Malawi last year when President Bingu wa Mutharika was in power, which sparked international criticism. Mutharika died of a heart attack in April.


AU to take Mali to UN Security Council

The African Union plans to refer the situation in Mali to the United Nations Security Council so that it can create a framework for tackling the worsening crisis there, a diplomatic source close to the AU president said on Wednesday.

Mali, once regarded as a fine example of African democracy, collapsed into chaos after soldiers toppled the president in March, leaving a power vacuum in the north that enabled rebels to take control of nearly two-thirds of the country.

A regionally backed transitional government has been set up in Bamako to organise new presidential elections within a year, though supporters of the ruling military junta oppose the plan.

“The African Union will go to the Security Council and then it will be up to it to find the right format for a resolution and if it deems military support necessary,” said the source close to Thomas Boni Yayi, the Benin president and head of the African Union.

He said it was not clear when the issue would be taken to the United Nations.

An agreement between northern Mali’s MNLA Tuareg rebels and the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group Ansar Dine to create an Islamic state in northern Mali’s Azawad desert has hit trouble over how strictly to impose sharia, Islamic law.

The separatist MNLA wants a moderate form of sharia, while Ansar Dine would like to impose a more hardline version, using punishments such as the amputation of hands and heads for certain crimes.

The West African group ECOWAS said it rejected the idea of a separate Islamic state in northern Mali, and new French President Francois Hollande urged African leaders on Tuesday to ask the U.N. Security Council to help restore stability in the region.