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Posts tagged ‘Africa Section’

Morocco’s Justice and Development Party to Elect New Secretary General

Sunday, 10 December, 2017

Morocco’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) held on Saturday its 8th national congress to elect a new leader, after its former leader Abdelilah Benkirane bid the party farewell, confirming that the party is determined to proceed with the reforms despite the party’s difficult situation.

Speaking at the inaugural session at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Benkirane indicated that national congress comes this year following several issues the party suffered from and after its success in the 2016 elections.

He stated that PJD managed to win the elections and defeat its opponents, hinting at its political rival Authenticity and Modernity opposition party.

King Mohammed VI chose Saadeddine Othmani as Prime Minister, which Benkirane described as a “huge blow” to the party.

“The party was supposed to take a very difficult stance and become part of the opposition, however, we eventually decided to react positively to the statement of the Royal Court,” stated Benkirane

“I know that a lot of brothers and sisters in the party treasure me, if not all,” he said. “But I am also human, anything could happen to me. In all cases, even if I were a good man, eventually I would have to leave the party,” he added in his farewell speech.

Benkirane had previously condemned PJD members who did not support him in his re-election for a third term.

“It is because of me that the party made political and electoral progress,” he said, adding that: “despite the tense and difficult conflict the party witnessed, we made the decision based on our internal laws and democracy, despite the fact that they suffer from shortcomings.”

“Perhaps, we made a mistake. We could have discussed the issue within the congress, but it’s too late for that now. You will have to choose a new secretary general. I ask you to listen to all candidates and make the right decision. May God be with you,” he concluded.

The leader of PJD is supposed to be announced on Sunday, following Benkirane’s two mandates, which started in 2008, where he led the party to three major wins in Morocco’s local and parliamentary elections, in 2011, 2015 and 2016. He also led the government from 2011 to 2017.

However, after failing to form a government following five months of post-election deadlock, King Mohammed VI decided to replace PM Benkirane with Othmani, which created a huge political turmoil within the party.

The king took the decision “in the absence of signs that suggest an imminent formation” of a government and due to “his concern about overcoming the current blockage” in political negotiations, the royal statement said.

The king thanked Benkirane for his service as prime minister, praising him for his “effectiveness, competence and self-sacrifice”.

Observers expect Othmani to rule the party following Benkirane, in order to avoid any conflicts between the positions of party’s secretary general with the presidency of the cabinet.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1108916/moroccos-justice-and-development-party-elect-new-secretary-general.

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Tunisia: Government ‘trying to control’ independent bodies

November 29, 2017

Independent bodies which deal with the fight against corruption, journalists’ rights and human rights in Tunisia have today united to condemn the government’s attempts to “marginalize” them by “emptying them of their content and reviewing their regulatory laws in order to control them”.

In a joint press conference, member of the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication, Hisham Snoussi, said: “It has become clear to us that the executive authority decided to circumvent the Constitution and to empty the authorities of their content by introducing laws that contradict rights and freedoms. There is a real decline in the authorities’ role.”

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Snoussi added: “All the authorities feel that the retreat implies the government’s power and contempt for the Constitution, especially when President Beji Caid Essebsi expressed his intention to amend the Constitution, criticizing the authorities’ role.”

On 6 September, Essebsi said in an interview with a local government newspaper that “constitutional authorities exercise absolute powers without supervision, under the right of independence, and they threaten the state’s unity and existence.”

National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists Director, Naji Baghouri, said: “All authorities have concerns about marginalizing and emptying them of their content and authority, by reviewing their regulatory laws.”

He added that “the authorities play an important role in the process of democratic transition.”

The Tunisian National Instance for the Fight Against Corruption, the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication, the Information Access Authority, along with the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists and the Tunisian Human Rights League have all condemned the government’s actions.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171129-tunisia-government-trying-to-control-independent-bodies/.

African Union chooses Algeria as counterterrorism coordinator

December 1, 2017

The African Union has chosen Algeria as the coordinator of its counterterrorism strategy. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his country were named by the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki, in an official announcement made in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Thursday.

Faki said that Algeria was chosen because of its “pioneering experience” in this area and its effective policy to combat extremism. “All African countries could follow Algeria’s experience in the fight against terrorism,” he added.

The AU official congratulated Algeria and President Bouteflika for their efforts in coordinating the bloc’s efforts towards preventing and combating terrorism.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171201-african-union-chooses-algeria-as-counterterrorism-coordinator/.

Algeria refuses to join Saudi-led Muslim Military Alliance

November 30, 2017

Algeria has joined Iran, Syria and Iraq and refused to join the Saudi-led Muslim Military Alliance, The Algeria Daily reported on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia leads two alliances including one against Houthi rebels in Yemen in addition to the Muslim Military Alliance.

While Saudi Arabia and its allies brand Lebanese Hezbollah and Houthi rebels in Yemen as terrorist organizations, Algeria does not agree with this position and maintains relations with Saudi Arabia at the same time with its rival, Iran.

The newspaper reported retired Algerian Colonel, Abdul Hamid Al-Sharif as saying that the alliance is an alliance of aggression that represents the conflicts of interests raging in the region which Algeria refuses to be part of.

Meanwhile, security expert, Ahmad Azimi said in a statement that the Muslim Military Alliance does not mean anything to Algeria because the member states are under Western influence.

“If the goal of the alliance is to liberate and defend Arab countries then we welcome it, but if it aims to attack Muslim countries then Algeria cannot be part of its”.

Saudi Arabia announced on December 14, 2015 the formation of the Anti- Terrorism Muslim Military Alliance with the participation of 41 countries, including Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Egypt.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171130-algeria-refuses-to-join-saudi-led-muslim-military-alliance/.

Cheering Zimbabweans greet country’s new leader Mnangagwa

November 24, 2017

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Exuberant Zimbabweans greeted the swearing-in Friday of new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who takes power after an extraordinary series of events that ousted the world’s oldest head of state.

Mnangagwa, fired earlier this month as vice president, will lead after the resignation of 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, who succumbed to pressure to quit from the military, the ruling party and massive demonstrations amid fears his unpopular wife would succeed him.

A smiling Mnangagwa greeted a stadium crowd of tens of thousands with a raised fist, and he promised to devote himself to the well-being of the people. The military, fresh from putting Mugabe under house arrest just days ago, quickly swore its loyalty to the new leader.

Mnangagwa, a former justice and defense minister, was a key Mugabe confidant for decades until they fell out because of the presidential ambitions of Mugabe’s wife, Grace. Despite his long association with the government that has presided over Zimbabwe’s decline, including economic collapse and human rights abuses, Mnangagwa has promised democracy and reached out to other countries for help.

Mugabe, one of Africa’s last remaining liberation leaders, quit Tuesday amid impeachment proceedings. In the end, he was isolated and showing few of the political skills that kept him in power for 37 years and made him a prominent but polarizing figure on the world stage. He had led since Zimbabwe’s independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Mugabe did not attend Friday’s swearing-in, and ruling party officials have said he will remain in Zimbabwe with their promise that he is “safe” and his legacy as a “hero” will stand after his fight for an independent Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper reported that Mnangagwa assured Mugabe and his family of their “maximum security.” The report said the two men agreed Mugabe would not attend Friday because he “needed time to rest.”

Some people ahead of the inauguration began to dance in the stadium stands. Banners erected in read “Dawn of a new era” and “No to retribution,” even as human rights activists began to report worrying details of attacks on close allies of the former first lady and their families. Mnangagwa has warned against “vengeful retribution.”

Tendai Lesayo held a small Zimbabwean flag as she sold drinks from a cooler outside the stadium. She said she would welcome a fresh start, saying “life now is impossible.” Elsewhere in the capital, long lines formed outside banks, a common sight in a nation struggling with cash shortages and other severe economic problems that the new president will have to confront.

“Right now, nothing has really changed for me. I still cannot get my money from the bank,” said Amon Mutora, who had been in line since 6 am. “Attending the inauguration will not bring food for my family,” said Kelvin Fungai, a 19-year-old selling bananas from a cart. Many young people are well-educated but jobless, reduced to street vending to survive. Others have left the country.

Elsewhere, there were signs of hope amid the uncertainty. Black market rates for cash have tumbled since Mugabe left office. Before he stepped down, one had to deposit $170 into a black market dealer’s bank account to get $100 cash. On Friday, $100 cash was selling for between $140 and $150.

As the inauguration crowds streamed by, Sharon Samuriwo sat on a ledge, watching. She said she hoped Mnangagwa would learn from the errors of his predecessor, and she acknowledged that the path ahead for Zimbabwe is unknown.

Still, “after 37 years, we’ve got someone different.”

Kenyatta Sworn in for Second Term as Kenya President amid Opposition Outcry

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in on Tuesday for a second term as president of Kenya as the opposition planned to hold a rally to protest the vote outcome.

Kenyatta won a repeat presidential election on October 26 that was boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who said it would not be free and fair.

The Supreme Court nullified the first presidential election, on August 8, over irregularities.

His swearing in for a second five-year term brought rapturous celebrations from his supporters as riot police sealed off an area where the opposition planned a rival gathering.

“I … do swear … that I will always truly and diligently serve the people of the Republic of Kenya,” Kenyatta said.

Before he arrived, a military band in gold and blue uniforms serenaded heads of state from Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Zambia and other nations as they arrived at the stadium where the ceremony took place.

More than 60,000 Kenyatta supporters, many clad in the red and yellow Jubilee party colors and carrying Kenyan flags, filled the stadium benches.

Thousands of others waited outside. Some, chafing at the restrictions, overwhelmed police and streamed in. Officers were forced to fire teargas to control them.

The extended election season has divided Kenya, a Western ally in a volatile region, and blunted growth in East Africa’s richest economy.

Odinga’s supporters, many drawn from poorer parts of the country, feel locked out of power and the patronage it brings.

Political arguments often have ethnic undercurrents, with Odinga’s supporters pointing out that three of the country’s four presidents have come from one ethnic group, although the country has 44 recognized groups.

But such arguments seemed far from the happy crowds at the celebration, who cheered wildly as Kenyatta was sworn into office and as he received a 21-gun salute.

“I’m sure Uhuru will be able to bring people together and unite them so we can all work for the country,” said Eunice Jerobon, a trader who traveled overnight from the Rift Valley town of Kapsabet for the inauguration, before the disturbance.

But Odinga supporters say such talk of unity is tantamount to surrender. They accuse the ruling party of stealing the election, rampant corruption, directing abuse by the security forces and neglecting vast swathes of the country, including Odinga’s heartland in the west.

“A return to the political backwardness of our past is more than unacceptable. It is intolerable … This divide cannot be bridged by dialogue and compromise,” Odinga’s National Super Alliance opposition alliance said in a statement.

The opposition planned to hold a prayer meeting in the capital on Tuesday, saying it wanted to commemorate the lives of Odinga supporters killed during confrontations with the security forces over the election period.

A witness said one person was shot dead as Kenyan police tried to block opposition supporters from holding the memorial.

More than 70 people have been killed in political violence this election season, mostly by the police. Such killings are rarely investigated. Human rights groups and others say nearly 100 people have been killed since the election that was nullified by the Supreme Court.

A Reuters team at the scene of the planned rally said the area had been sealed off by seven truck loads of police in riot gear. Two water cannons were standing by and a helicopter hovered overhead.

Police began firing teargas in nearby residential areas two hours before the rally was due to start, apparently attempting to prevent opposition supporters from gathering.

Several roads were blocked by burning tires, rocks, glass and uprooted billboards. Police shot in the air to disperse anyone trying to gather.

But Dennis Onyango, a spokesman for Odinga, told Reuters on Tuesday morning they were still planning to hold the rally.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1097286/kenyatta-sworn-second-term-kenya-president-amid-opposition-outcry.

Turkey to open 5 new embassies in Africa

October 31, 2017

Turkey’s ambassador to the African Union announced yesterday that Ankara is planning to open five embassies in Africa, the Anadolu Agency reported.

During a speech at Addis Ababa University, Fatih Ulusoy said new embassies are set to open in the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In his lecture “Turkey in Africa: Drivers and incentives of an emerging power”, Ulusoy said this would bring the total number of Turkish embassies on the continent to 44.

Discussing Turkish-Ethiopian relations, the official said there are currently 165 Turkish companies operating in Ethiopia.

“These companies create jobs for 30,000 Ethiopians,” he said, adding that Turkish investment in Ethiopia stands at nearly $3 billion, accounting for about half of Turkey’s total investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Turkey started its openness to the black continent in 1998 and this relationship prospered when the

Under Erdogan, Turkey has become the third largest country that offers humanitarian aid to Africa after the US and the UK.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171031-turkey-to-open-5-new-embassies-in-africa/.

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