Africa Monitor | Volume V; Issue 1

    The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa headquarters in Addis Ababa

    Source: Flickr

    The Continent

    Is the commodities super cycle slowdown a shock for Africa?

    Tumbling commodity prices have refocused attention on sustainability of growth in Africa. For over a decade, high demand and rising prices for Africa’s commodities have contributed significantly to growth on the continent. However, since 2011, continued fall in the price of oil and natural gas, and, more recently other minerals, are threatening to turn tailwinds into headwinds. Declining demand in major emerging economies coupled with continuous fragility in developed economies, as well as volatility in the currency and shrinking confidence all call for a reality check.

    The global commodity price index slid from 125-150 between August and December 2014 to less than 103 in October 2015. Crude oil prices slowed down from over 100 USD/barrel in September 2014 to less than 50 USD/barrel in September 2015. Metal prices continues to decrease, falling below 125 in August 2015. In fact some stipulate that the prices of minerals and metals are now at their lowest since August 2002. Mining companies are trying to abate fears of profit losses by reducing production. Some estimates suggest cuts in capital expenditures by up to 20 billion USD for 2015.

    From Nigeria to Angola, South Africa or Zambia, decline in commodity prices is deflating growth and the ripple effect is affecting the reality of lives on the ground. September 2015 estimates suggest that African currencies were down more than 20% against the USD. In an effort to curtail its 30 billion USD debt pile and restore investor’s confidence, Glencore, the Anglo–Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company, has cut 500,000 tons of zinc production and suspended copper production at its Katanga Mining unit in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia. These actions have led to the removal of 400,000 tons of copper from the market. The slowdown in China is seen as the main culprit of these dramatic changes in demand. But the picture is certainly more complex.

    African countries are not the only ones subjected to bad weather. Traditional and emerging economies are also on the receiving end of the deepening malaise. Brazil is facing trade deficits estimated at 40 billion USD, from a trade surplus of 20 billion USD in 2010. Russia has similar challenges, with growth of only 0.5% in 2014, compounded by geopolitical tensions and associated sanctions. Colombia, Turkey, Mexico and Chile have all seen their currencies fall between 20% and 50% against the dollar. Stock markets have responded to declining prices with continued drop in prices, some often strong. But by far the most impactful is the slowing down of growth in China, the lowest in a quarter century.

    African countries remain resilient. Despite weakening commodity prices, growth momentum is set to continue, estimated to be above world and developing countries average, close to 4% in 2015. Analysis show that the impact of recent oil prices decline on Africa’s growth has been less than expected. The decline in oil prices had a marginal impact. In fact Africa’s growth is more attributable to internal demand as well as improved macroeconomic management. Progress in economic growth and rising wealth are contributing to the estimated 1 trillion USD projected rise in Africa’s assets by 2020. This is a nearly a three-fold increase from a total of 293 billion USD in 2008, according to latest research by PricewaterhouseCoopers across 12 African markets. Indeed, Africa’s traditional assets under management (AuM) is expanding aggressively, supported by megatrends such as demographic surge, fast growing middle class, increased use of technology, and rapid urbanization.

    But the fact remains that many of Africa’s fortunes are still driven by the commodity sector. Over 80% of total African exports are still linked to commodities, with extractive industries taking the lion’ share. The amount of value addition is estimated at just over 10%. The formal employment generated by mining is 1% on the continent. These two elements are obviously related, Africa is exporting its commodities and jobs, simultaneously. It has done little to reverse such an appalling performance. It needs to catch up with its expanding labor force, and do it fast.

    Awakened by the commodities super cycle downfall, time is right for Africa to accelerate its commodity-based industrialization, as promoted by the Economic Commission for Africa. It promotes an industrialization policy that leverages the continent’s abundant resources and changing organization of global production process. This entails adding value to commodities, improving its backward integration, and expanding global value chain linkages to other areas of the economy. Apart from providing employment, income, price and non-price benefits, African countries, by adding value to their raw materials locally, could also bring about diversification of technological capabilities, an expanded skills base, and deepening of individual countries’ industrial structures.

    In the short run it would be necessary to have a commodity index that truly reflects the weight of African commodities in its GDP and projects impacts based on African realities rather than approximations. This is important so bad weather does not necessarily become associated with storms. Africans know how important that distinction is.

    No shortcuts to UNSC reforms

    When the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened on 15 September 2015, reforming the UN Security Council (UNSC) was again on the agenda. By the time that the annual general debate concluded on 3 October, no agreement had been reached on an issue that has remained unresolved for several decades.

    The composition of the UNSC has only been changed once. This occurred in 1964, after a large expansion of UN membership and two years of intense debate that resulted in four additional non-permanent seats, increasing the Council to 15 members.

    Discussions about UNSC reform assumed a different approach during the most recent round of negotiations that started early in 2015. The former UNGA president, Sam Kutesa from Uganda, worked closely with the chair of the intergovernmental negotiations – the Jamaican representative, Courtney Rattray – to advance the discussions. Each UN member state was asked to present its position, and these were then used to draft a single, integrated negotiation text.

    The document produced was 118 pages long, consisting of 22 official pages plus 96 pages of specific ‘inputs’ provided by several members. This so-called Framework Document highlighted the same issue that has plagued discussions in the last two decades: member states are not willing to compromise.

    Despite agreement on the need to expand the number of UNSC seats, there is no consensus on the categories of seats that should be expanded, or which countries would be able to assume new permanent, semi-permanent or any other category of seats.

    Eventually, the only difference between this painful process and those from before was a slight increase in mentions about the legitimacy of the African claim for greater permanent representation. All other issues, both substantive and procedural, remained contested, and most of the statements made during the various sessions only repeated past positioning.

    The problem is that the African representation at the UN lacks capacity. Most permanent missions are small, not very well equipped and, consequently, not able to coordinate and better represent their member states within the UN. Africa must overcome these internal challenges if it is to effectively engage in the international arena.

    It is difficult to point to a solution for the problems of UNSC reform within the current approach. That is why the Institute for Security Studies has proposed mobilising civil society and academics through the Elect the Council initiative, launched in 2015.

    The inordinate influence of the P5 on the decisions of the UNSC is a particular source of frustration to African countries, as well as to India, which is recognised as having a legitimate claim based, among others, on its 18% share of the global population.

    Divisions among the P5 frustrate efforts by the UNSC to engage constructively on flashpoints such as the Middle East and in the South China Sea, where disputes over territory and sovereignty between a number of countries (China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei) are particularly concerning. The only region where the UNSC can act effectively is in Africa, given the absence of direct great power interests.

    Elect the Council proposes that the only plausible reform scenario is where two-thirds of member states agree on detailed recommendations on reform, not general principles. And for members to then engage with the P5 in the UNGA with these specific demands, thus frustrating the ability of the permanent members to divide and rule. The fourth revised and updated version of the Elect the Council reform proposals will shortly be available.

    Source(s): Institute for Security Studies, 6 January, 2016

    Experts query UN move to cut troops to DRC Mission

    As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended further cut of UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, some experts questioned whether the UN’s biggest peace operation is even relevant. Ban is recommending that 1,700 troops be cut from the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, the second drawdown in two years.

    In a report, released Tuesday to the Security Council, Ban said a further cut could be decided if progress was made in rooting out rebel groups in eastern DR Congo. “A further reduction of MONUSCO military personnel may be envisaged without compromising the mission’s ability to implement its mandate to protect civilians, including the neutralisation of armed groups,” Ban said in the report.

    But in an interview with The New Times, yesterday, John Musemakweri, former director of Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) – now an independent development practitioner – said the mission has not lived up to its mandate. For more than two decades now, the UN apparatus in DR Congo has failed to eliminate the threat posed by remnants of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who fled to eastern DR Congo jungles evading responsibility for their crimes in Rwanda.

    Their different politico-military groupings have often metamorphosed into an attempt to veil their genocide ideology. For the past 16 years, they have been organised under FDLR militia, which comprises of elements largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who had fled into DR Congo when the genocidal government was toppled. Musemakweri said one needs to first understand the original goals of the MONUSCO mission in the DR Congo.

    Before they reduce its forces, Musemakweri said, they should tell the world, and the Great Lakes region in particular, what they have achieved for the last two decades with all the money spent. Lack of will to fight FDLR. In March 2014, Amb. Eugène-Richard Gasana, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, told the Security Council that MONUSCO was clearly not willing to fight FDLR.

    He said claims by MONUSCO that FDLR militia are located in populated areas was “a sheer lie” since the outfit has most of its forward units in Virunga National Park in North Kivu Province and other areas in the region. Throughout the last quarter of 2013, Rwanda was told that FDLR would be next on the list of negative forces to be eliminated but that never happened.

    In late 2013, a 3,069-strong special UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) – the first UN peacekeeping unit mandated to neutralise armed groups in DR Cong, under MONUSCO, and the Congolese army coalition launched operations that speedily crushed the M23 rebellion from eastern DR Congo. MONUSCO boasted a staggering annual budget of $2 billion but the same military coalition remained reluctant when it came to dealing with the FDLR.

    Eric Ndushabandi, PhD, the vice-dean of School of Social, Political andAdministrative Sciences at the University of Rwanda, said after 15 years of ‘wasting’ time, it is time for the “UN to question its achievements” in DR Congo.

    Source(s): The New Times, 7 January, 2016

     

    Central Africa

    Boko Haram arrests worsen Cameroon prison conditions

    Detention conditions in Cameroon’s prisons are worsening as thousands of people suspected to have links with Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram are thrown in jail.

    Since 2014, at least 1,300 people have been “arbitrarily arrested, and many held in deplorable conditions, which have led to dozens of deaths,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s director for West and Central Africa.

    At least 700 of these suspected Boko Haram terrorists are currently detained in Maroua Central Prison, where already poor conditions “have been worsened by these massive arrests of Boko Haram suspects”, the attorney general for the Far North Regional Court of Appeals, Joseph Belporo, told IRIN.

    Under Cameroon’s 2014 anti-terrorism law, the military and police have been raiding homes and markets along the northern border with Nigeria searching for suspected Boko Haram militants. Most of those taken into custody are teenage boys and men, and they are often arrested dozens at a time. Many families say they still don’t know where their loved ones were taken.

    “It [has become] a normal thing for innocent citizens to be arrested and detained for the purpose of investigations at this moment when the country is at war with a terrorist organisation,” said Eva Etongue, of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms. “But we are concerned with how these suspects are treated and how long they are being held in custody.”

    Cameroon’s penal code allows judges to keep suspects in pre-trial detention for a period of six months, renewable once, but human rights advocates say many of these prisoners have been held for much longer.

    Source(s): Irin, 6 January, 2016

    UN envoy in CAR meets with Presidential candidates

    The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) reported that the top UN official in the country has met with 28 of the 30 presidential candidates in the capital, Bangui, just days after the first round of presidential and legislative elections.

    “The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Parfait Onanga-Anyanga] stressed the need for the electoral process to continue,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at a press briefing in New York.

    According to the UN integrated stabilization Mission, known as MINUSCA, the candidates “committed themselves to channelling election-related complaints through the Constitutional Court, as provided for in the Electoral Code as well as the Code of Good Conduct.”

    As of yesterday, 98 per cent of the voting results of presidential elections and 96 per cent for the legislative elections were reportedly received at the Data Processing Centre in Bangui.

    Regarding refugees’ vote, tally sheets were received from Cameroon, Chad, the Republic of Congo and Sudan. Meanwhile, final provisional results are expected to be announced in the coming days.

    The UN has played a major role in seeking to restore peace in the Central African Republic, with military and police units from the 11,000-strong MINUSCA joining soldiers from the French Sangaris force and local security teams last 30 December at polling stations to ensure a peaceful vote.

    After nine months of improved stability in CAR, a new wave of inter-communal violence erupted in September, killing at least 130 people, injuring 430 others, and triggering an 18 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced persons to 447,500.

    Source(s): UN News Services, 6 January, 2016

    Angola: Over 2,000 crimes reported in 2015

    Central Benguela province recorded 2,696 crimes in 2015, the local command of the National Police announced. The above figure, according to the source, is short by 1,058 as compared with the previous year and 2,330 were detained in connection with them.

    According to the head of the Office of Study, Information and Analysis of the Provincial Command of the National Police, Vicente Nogueira, compared with the figures of 2014, there has been a drop of 320 detainees.

    He mentioned that among the crimes committed in the year in respect, 2,258 have been clarified, and 348 are of economic nature and 1,306 against property. 87 were breakage of public order and tranquility and 223 involved drug trafficking, the officer added. The officer also mentioned 57 murders, 61 rapes mostly in Benguela municipality, including 46 crimes committed with the use of firearms.

    The Geia director also said that the National Police in Benguela carried out 853 operations that led to the arrest of 1,123 people and dismantling of two crime gangs. The National Police also seized 815,511 kilograms of cannabis, 199 grams of heavy drug, 93,49 grams of cocaine and 39 firearms, loaders, ammunition, retrieved 14 stolen vehicles, 11 cattle, the source also stated.

    According to the officer, the National Police seized one D-30 cannon, 31 projectiles of assorted types, TNT blocks and a grenade launcher. The municipalities of Benguela and Lobito recorded most of the crimes in 2015, with the former reporting 588 and the latter 332.

    Source(s): Angola Press, 7 January, 2016

     

    North Africa

    Egypt: King Tut’s golden mask restored, back on display in the Egyptian museum

    Ancient Egyptian boy king Tutankhamen’s famous golden mask was fully restored and is currently back on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, said Egypt’s antiquities minister last month.

    The beard of the ancient mask, which was reportedly broken by cleaners back in August 2014, had been glued by epoxy causing damage to the mask. Ancient Egypt’s youngest king was making headlines in local and international news outlets last January when the incident was revealed.

    Minister Mamdouh al-Damati said the restoration process resulted in a new archaeological discovery relating to the original technique used to attach the beard to the mask. It revealed that a golden tube was used by ancient Egyptians to attach the beard was discovered inside.

    The minister said ancient Egyptians had used beeswax to stick the beard to the mask. He added said that a detailed study is being prepared to review the steps used in the restoration of the mask, which will be issued in a booklet.

    Christian Eckmann, a German conservator who led the restoration, said no chemical material was used in the process. Instead mechanical methods and wooden tools, were used to remove the epoxy to avoid scratching the mask, he said. It took two weeks to separate the glued beard from the mask, Eckmann added. Finally, beeswax was used to reattach the beard back on to the mask.

    Tutankhamen belongs to 18th dynasty. His tomb was found by Howard Carter in 1922, in what is often dubbed the discovery of the century because the tomb was found largely intact.

    Source(s): Aswat Masriya, 27 December, 2015

     Ethiopia: Nile is not only source of life but also source of cooperation

    Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia announced on Tuesday that they have “reached a consensus over the next steps” of the establishment of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam after 11 rounds of talks between the three countries.

    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is being built on the River Nile, has been a key part of Transformational Plan for Ethiopia’s Mega National Project since the dam’s building process started in April 2011. Ethiopia hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region, as Ethiopia’s “long-awaited national project,” which is scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant with a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic meters of water. But Egypt fears that the designated plan set for the establishment of the dam might affect its 55 cubic meter-share of Nile water.

    The March Declaration void

    The March Declaration, signed between Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Ethiopia’s Prime Minster Hailemariam Dessalegn and Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir included 10 articles. The leaders of the three countries signed a co-operation deal in Khartoum in March that paved the way for a joint approach to regional water supplies. This Declaration can be taken as a sign of Cooperation.

    The 10 principles in the March agreement included giving priority to downstream countries for electricity generated by the dam, a mechanism for resolving conflicts, and providing compensation for damages.

    The Khartoum Agreement is one of the fruitful cooperation between three countries and is the output of the March Declaration. After 11 rounds of talks between the three countries, they have “reached a consensus over the next steps” of the establishment of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

    Source(s): The Ethiopian Herald, 5 January, 2016

    Algeria: Reserve currency shrunk to U.S. $152.7 billion by September end

    Algeria’s reserve currency dropped to $152.7 billion by the end of September 2015 against $159.03 billion by the end of 2015, i.e. down by $6.33 billion between June and September, Governor of Bank of Algeria Mohamed Laksaci said Wednesday in Algiers. Between September 2014 and September 2015, the reserve currency shrank to $32.57 billion, he said.

    The balance of payment deficit amounted to $20.8 billion during the first nine months of 2015 against a deficit of $3.02 billion during the same period in 2014, said the governor in his presentation of the report on financial and economic situation in the presence of the CEOs of financial institutions and banks working in Algiers.

    Source(s): Algerie Press Service, 6 January, 2016

     

    Southern Africa

    Malawi: Leprosy hits seven districts as typhoid fever terrorizes Neno

    Leprosy, a disease older than the Bible, is back in Malawi and has hit seven districts.

    Leonard Mawaya, program manager for the Department of Leprosy and Skin Diseases at the Ministry of Health, said the disease was restricted to Balaka in 2015 but has now spread to Nkhotakotakota, Phalombe, Mangochi, Mzimba, Salima and Machinga.

    “As government, we are doing all we can to contain the disease but we are now overwhelmed, we need assistance from our development partners,” said Mawaya who is responsible for leprosy in the Ministry of Health. He attributes the resurgence to complacency. He said people thought the disease was gone and funding was cut.

    “Even the program’s office has got one vehicle catering for the whole country. So for us to do supervision from North down to South becomes very difficult. And for the rest of our officers, only one or two have got motor bicycles while the rest have to borrow,” Mawaya said.

    Leprosy is far from the biblical plague it once was. The skin disease is caused by bacteria. It is infectious, transmitted via sneezing and coughing, but it is now treatable. The WHO recommends a multi-drug regimen that makes patients unable to transmit the infection after just one dose.

    Source(s): Nyasa Times, 6 January, 2016

    South Africa: Hashim Amla quits as Test captain, AB De Villiers to take over

    Hashim Amla resigned from the South African Test captaincy with immediate effect on Wednesday. Amla said that this decision has been one that he has been pondering since the team returned from their horror show in India. AB de Villiers will see the team through the series against England. By ANTOINETTE MULLER. In a turn of events that you couldn’t make it up if you tried, Hashim Amla has resigned from the South African Test captaincy.

    We say couldn’t make it up because usually, it’s the English captain who calls it a day at the end of a series against South Africa, like during South Africa’s 2008 tour to England, when Michael Vaughan resigned. This time, the tables have turned.

    These kinds of decisions can rock teams, but Amla is just not kind of player to rock the boat. The now former skipper says that he had been pondering the decision since the team’s return from India and even though there was some temptation to carry on after regaining some of his batting form, he simply didn’t feel that he was the right man for the job. “I feel there is a greater need to work on my own game…

    Source(s): Daily Maverick, 6 January, 2016

    Zimbabwe: Govt pays civil servants, convenes Indaba

    GOVERNMENT yesterday paid the last batch of civil servants their December 2015 salaries and called for a meeting with the workers’ representatives today to discuss issues affecting the workers and what is being done to address them.

    Among the issues workers expect to be tabled today are modalities on the payment of the 2015 annual bonuses, the ongoing rationalisation of the civil service and 0deductions on their salaries that were effected last month.

    Acting Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, yesterday confirmed Government had cleared the dues.

    Government last month started deducting a 7, 5 percent pension contribution from civil servants’ salaries as they have not been paying pension since 2009 when everyone was getting a flat $100.The situation became unsustainable and a huge backlog of commutations accumulated.

    Government is also carrying out a rationalisation exercise to reduce its $150 million monthly wage bill by plugging unnecessary expenditure. Student teachers and trainees’ allowances have been reduced from $329 to $157 while salaries paid to teachers at trust and private schools by Government have been terminated.

    All vacant posts have been abolished, bus fare for civil servants has been re-introduced, under-used staff is being redeployed, funding of bridging courses has been scrapped while all members who were abusing various types of leave, tampering with pay sheets and attendance registers have been charged.

    Source(s): The Herald, 7 January, 2016

     

    East Africa

    Sudan Liberation Movement considers interim Government

    Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (Peace Desirers) pointed out that the proposal of the interim government is considered one of the solutions to the problems hampering the unity of the national rank.

    Leader of the movement and member of the external relations committee, Ibrahim Suleiman, said that the option of the interim movement is a major demand of his movement.

    He said that several parties and movements have called for an interim government that shall be chaired by the President of the Republic, adding the participants at the National Dialogue Conference shall agree on the duration of the interim government.

    He said that the vision of Dr. Al-Turabi on the interim government represents the view of his party alone.

    Source(s): SNA, 5 January, 2016

    Kenya: Court declines to suspend law giving President appointment power

    The High Court has declined to suspend the implementation of a law that gives the President power to appoint the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice.

    Justice George Odunga however certified the application by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) as urgent saying it has raised critical constitutional questions and should be heard expeditiously. Justice Odunga directed parties in the case be served and set the hearing for January 13.

    Mr Kitonga said the matter was urgent given that the Judiciary is currently involved in the recruitment of the Deputy Chief Justice and if the orders are not granted, there was likelihood that the unconstitutional criteria prescribed in the amendment will be used.

    LSK further argued that the Senate and members of the public were not involved in the passage of the amendment as required under the constitution thus making them unconstitutional. Justice Odunga said the issues raised in the application were critical given that the amendments affects the independence of the judiciary and interferes with separation of powers.

    “I am satisfied that the matter is urgent and ought to be heard expeditiously but I cannot issue orders at this stage to suspend the implementation of the law because there will be no prejudice suffered within the seven days given for the inter-parties hearing,” said the judge.

    The Law Society of Kenya is challenging the constitutionality of recent changes in the law that requires the Judicial Service Commission to give the President three nominees for the post of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice.

    The Judiciary is expected to appoint a new Chief Justice as the current holder Dr Willy Mutunga is set to retire in June this year when he attains the age of 70 years. The Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal who is challenging her retirement is court, also turns 70 in January 15 this year.

    Source(s): Daily Nation, 6 January, 2016

    Kenyan mobile phone users up to 38 million

    Kenya now has 37.8 million active mobile phone numbers with the Internet cum data market registering 21.6 million users.

    The just-released Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) quarterly report said pre-paid tariffs continued to register the highest rate of growth that now stands at 97.3 per cent compared to post-paid that saw a rise to 990,000.

    The report does not, however, take into consideration Kenyans who own more than two lines from different mobile service providers.

    The CA quarterly findings say that Kenyans accessing the Internet fuelled by the urge to log onto social media sites to update status and converse with virtual friends while on the go, continued to excite the data market.

    The portion of Kenyans accessing the Internet reached 74.2 per 100 inhabitants.

    Broadband subscriptions increased by 19.3 per cent to reach 6.3 million up from 5.3 million subscriptions recorded during the previous quarter marking a penetration level of 14.7 per cent.

    Source(s): Daily Nation, 7 January, 2016

    Uganda: Police fire teargas, bullets to block Besigye from IDP camp

    Two people were injured after police opened fire to block Kizza Besigye, the Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate from visiting Toriet IDP camp in Amanang Sub-county in Bukwo district.

    Besigye, who was on his way from Suam (Uganda-Kenya) border town, was asked by supporters at Akoro trading centre who insisted that he addresses them too. The residents told Besigye how they were living in deplorable conditions in the camp following their eviction from Mt Elgon.

    They complained that they lack basic facilities like health centers and clean water sources and asked Besigye to tour the camp to see it all firsthand.

    After listening to the residents’ complaints, Besigye and his team decided to tour Toriet Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp but were blocked by police led by Gerald Twishime, the Siipi Regional Police Commander saying they couldn’t visit any area which is outside their campaign program. Interestingly, the District Police Commander Alfred Baluku had okayed the visit but was overruled by Twishime.

    Twishime directed Besigye and his team to proceed to Amaang primary school ground where he was scheduled to hold a rally. In defiance, Besigye insisted on touring the IDP and within moments the waiting police started firing teargas and live bullets to disperse the crowds.

    Two residents including 70-year-old Amin Sadick and another whose identity was not readily available were injured in the fracas. The residents regrouped later and led Besigye to the camp. Jack Wamai Wamanga, the Mbale MP who is part of Besigye’s convoy condemned the incident saying the police action was uncalled for.

    He said they would continue with their campaign of defiance until they cause a peaceful change of government. Also injured, FDC claimed were Besigye, Nandala Mafabi, Ingrid Turinawe. We couldn’t independently verify this. Wamanga accused police of acting on the orders of the incumbent government and NRM presidential candidate, Yoweri Museveni.

    Source(s): The Observer, 7 January, 2016

     

    West Africa

    Cote d’Ivoire: Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister and government resign

    Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has accepted the resignation of his government. The prime minister said he wanted to allow the recently re-elected Ouattara to “inject a new dynamic” into government action.

    Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan submitted his and his government’s resignation last week, as the country’s president pushes for reforms in the West African country.

    “At the last 2015 cabinet meeting on December 23 you expressed your wish to inject a new dynamic into government action,” Duncan told President Alassane Ouattara before what was meant to be the first cabinet meeting of the year. “In view of this, and as you embark on your second term, I would like, as tradition demands, to present to you my resignation as prime minister.” The president said he accepted Ouattara’s resignation and complimented him for his competence and hard work.

    Calls for more efficiency

    Shortly after winning the presidency in October, Ouattara said he wanted to make moves to reduce poverty in French-speaking Africa’s largest economy. Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa producer, and its economy has been steadily growing at around 9 percent per annum in recent years – but large segments of the population say they have not benefitted from this.

    Observers had expected the government’s resignation since the elections. A spokesman told reporters that the new government would be announced next week.

    Ivory Coast was immersed in a civil war after Ouattara’s initial, contested election victory of 2010. Then-President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power, ultimately leading to a civil war in which roughly 3,000 people were killed.

    Source(s): DW, Reuters, 6 January, 2016

     Gambia: Women ordered to wear headscarves in Gambia public offices

    The decision contradicts a promise of no change in dress code when the country declared itself an Islamic republic last month. Female civil servants will be expected to use a head tie and wrap their hair.

    The U-turn was made in a presidential directive to public sector employees, effective from December 31, 2015.

    The memo states: “All female staff within the government ministries, departments and agencies are no longer allowed to expose their hair during official working hours…Female staff are advised to use head ties and neatly wrap their hair.”

    The decision was greeted with shock by civil rights groups after President Yahya Jammeh earlier pledged that there would be no change in dress code for women. That promise was made in mid-December when he declared the roughly 90-percent Muslim majority country an Islamic republic.

    Change of mind

    “Gambia’s destiny is in the hands of the Almighty Allah,” Jammeh said on TV last month as the country became the second in Africa after Mauritania to renounce secularism.

    But then the former army officer immediately added: “I have not appointed anyone as an Islamic policeman. The way women dress is not your business.”

    Several Muslim countries deploy religious police to enforce sharia rules regarding morality. But many police forces have faced severe criticism for the types of punishment meted out to those caught violating religious codes, which includes flogging.

    Opposition angry – Gambia’s opposition has accused Jammeh of violating the country’s constitution both in last month’s announcement and in the new rules for female workers. The presidential order, which did not create exceptions for non-Muslims, ordered that all department heads implement the new policy.

    The dress code requirement follows stricter rules introduced against the media and homosexuality since Jammeh took power in a coup in 1994. Jammeh’s government has been branded one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. Human Rights Watch said his paramilitaries and secret police have tortured and murdered hundreds of people. Last year, Gambia expelled the EU’s envoy to the country after Brussels cut its foreign aid to Banjul over its human rights record.

    Source(s): DW, Reuters, 6 January, 2016

    Nigeria: MTN finally acquires Visafone

    MTN, Africa’s leading mobile phone operator, has finally sealed the deal to acquire Visafone, the only surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator in Nigeria, owned by the banking magnate, Mr. Jim Ovia.

    The acquisition of Visafone, the only surviving CDMA operator in Nigeria, by MTN, a GSM operator, marks the final death of CDMA operations in Africa’s largest economy.

    Though, MTN is yet to make official announcement of the acquisition, but inside sources confirmed the development to Daily Trust reporter. Contrary to the initial report about the deal that MTN is not taking along the purchase of the CDMA Company with its liabilities, sources said the telecoms giant has acquired the staggering Visafone with all its properties, including its spectrum and liabilities.

    Source(s): Daily Trust, 7 January, 2016

     

     (This monitor is prepared by Urvashi Sudhindra, Research Intern, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi) 

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