03 August 2012
Egypt's new cabinet is due to be officially announced on August 9, as state media released a partial list of the country's incoming cabinet members.
The list includes few Islamists and some holdovers from the outgoing military-backed team in key positions. The cabinet is the first under newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood official, who tasked his newly appointed Prime Minister, Hesham Qandil, with the job of selecting the cabinet. Military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi will retain his position the as defence minister.
Mr. Qandil's choices are seen as a key test of the Muslim Brotherhood's intentions. Of the 20 incoming ministers listed by the state media late on August 1, Muslim Brotherhood members are to fill two posts, higher education and the housing ministries.
The crucial positions of finance and foreign ministers are holdovers from the military-backed transition cabinet. Other key positions including the ministers of justice and the minister of culture and information have not yet been named. The military is expected to name the defence minister.
Since the presidential election in June, Egypt has been embroiled in a complex power struggle between President Morsi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which ruled the country since its former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.
Source(S): Al Jazeera, August 02, 2012
Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago: bilateral talks
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, held bilateral discussions at Port au Prince on August 1. Nigeria and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago both renewed ties in the areas of energy, technical, cultural, educational and scientific cooperation.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that her country would provide technical experts to Nigeria in the energy sector. President Jonathan restated Nigeria's commitment to promoting economic ties beneficial to both countries and enhancing South-South cooperation. He emphasised that: "We believe that providing infrastructures alone will not stop militancy in the Niger Delta, human beings must be developed and trained so that they will play positive role in the society in the oil industry.
Source(S): All Africa, August 03, 2012
Mali's President returns from Paris
Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore has arrived back home after a two-month absence. He has been recovering in Paris from injuries sustained when he was beaten by supporters of March's coup.
Journalist Idrissa Fane told the BBC that Mr. Traore was greeted by large crowds at the airport and looked to be healthy. Analysts say he has a tough task ahead in trying to resolve the political stalemate caused by the coup and an Islamist rebellion in the north.
Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants capitalised on the chaos following an army coup in March and took control of the north of the country, but their uneasy alliance has collapsed. The al-Qaeda Islamists now control all three of the region's main cities Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Thousands have fled the north.
Source(s): BBC Africa, July 27, 2012
SA stops oil imports from Iran
June's crude oil importation report comes as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans a visit to South Africa in a few days, but it remains unclear whether South Africa intends to permanently cut all Iranian imports in response to possible economic sanctions, a major source of cash for the crude-dependent Middle Eastern nation.
Monthly statistics from the South African Revenue Service (Sars) show the nation received the majority of its oil in June from Saudi Arabia, with Angola and Nigeria also contributing heavily. From May 2011 to May 2012, statistics show that about 35 per cent of all crude imported by the country came from Iran. Government officials estimate the value of that crude to be more than $3.4-billion.
South Africa had been on a US state department's sanction waiver list, allowing the country to continue to import Iranian oil for 180 days so long as it began "significantly reducing" the amount it brought in. That waiver deadline has since passed, putting South African banks at risk of being cut off from the American banking system.
US President Barack Obama signed the sanctions into law December 31, which are aimed at trying to stop its suspected drive for nuclear weapons. The European Union also has put in place its own ban on Iranian crude, as well as prohibited firms from insuring shipments of Iranian oil.
Source(s): Mail & Guardian, August 01, 2012
S. Sudan: UN to air drop food
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has announced it plans to air drop lifesaving assistance to refugees located in parts of South Sudan which have limited infrastructure. "WFP is pulling out all the stops to keep providing desperately needed food to refugees in Upper Nile State," WFP's South Sudan Country Director, Chris Nikoi, said.
South Sudan is currently hosting more than 150,000 refugees from Sudan, many of whom have fled conflict and lack of food in their homeland. A large number of these are in Upper Nile State. To address the lack of infrastructure to deliver aid in South Sudan, WFP has been moving food to the camps on river barges, trucks and helicopters. However, the recent influx of 35,000 refugees into Maban County in the state of Upper Nile has sharply increased the food needs.
Source(s): All Africa, August 02, 2012
Somalia: constituent assembly endorses draft constitution
Somalia's constituent assembly endorsed a draft constitution August 1, billed as a key step to ending decades of civil war, and shortly after two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates.
"We are very happy today that you... responsibly completed the procedure by voting for the constitution," Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told the 825-strong assembly after it approved the draft by a landslide 96 percent. "I announce that Somalia has from today left the transitional period", he added.
The special assembly, chosen by traditional elders in a UN-backed process, took eight days to debate and vote on the new constitution for war-torn Somalia, as the graft-riddled government approaches the end of its mandate on August 20.
The provisional constitution applies immediately, but it must be finally ratified by a national referendum. The complicated process is seen as a key step as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ends its mandate on August 20, after eight years of infighting and minimal political progress. Somalia has been without a stable central government since the ouster of former president Siad Barre in 1991.
Mogadishu has seen a series of such attacks since the Al Shabaab abandoned fixed positions there last year and switched to guerrilla tactics against the government, propped up by a 17,000-strong African Union force.
The unit has been facing increasing pressure from pro-government forces and regional armies, having lost a series of key towns and strategic bases in recent months. However, experts warn that they are far from defeated and remain a major threat.
Source(s): AFP, August 01, 2012
Rwanda loses German aid over DRC unrest
German Development Minister Dirk Niebel said on July 28 that Germany was putting on ice some €21-million in aid for Kigali planned from this year until 2015 in what he said was an "unmistakable signal to the Rwandan government".
A United Nations panel said in June that Rwanda was supplying the M23 rebels, a group of Tutsi ex-rebels who have become active in the volatile eastern region of Nord-Kivu. The United States has also suspended aid in the wake of the accusations, as have the United Kingdom and Netherlands. Rwanda denies the claims, however.
"It must be clear that Rwanda is not supporting illegal militias in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo," Mr. Niebel demanded, calling for "complete cooperation" with the United Nations.
On July 21, Washington announced it was suspending military aid to Rwanda because of "deep concerns" over evidence it was supporting the rebels. And on July 26, The Hague said it was halting some five million Euros of aid aimed at improving the Rwandan justice system.
In response, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo deplored the "hasty decisions based on flimsy evidence" and repeated Kigali's denial of support to DRC rebels. Earlier this month, DRC President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed to deploy a joint task force to neutralise the M23 rebels.
The UN refugee agency has urged the protection of civilians in eastern DRC amid reports of indiscriminate and summary killings of civilians, rape and torture.
Source(s): Mail & Guardian, July 29, 2012
The report has been prepared by Priyanka Mehrotra, Research Assistant, and Shaantanu Shankar, Research Intern, at ORF.