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Posts tagged ‘African Union (AU)’

African Union urges Congo to suspend final election results

January 18, 2019

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The African Union continental body issued a surprise last-minute demand late Thursday for Congo’s government to suspend the announcement of final results of the disputed presidential election, citing “serious doubts.”

Congo’s constitutional court is poised to rule as early as Friday on a challenge filed by the election’s declared runner-up. Martin Fayulu has requested a recount, alleging fraud. Upholding the results could spark violence in a country hoping for its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960.

The AU statement said heads of state and government agreed to “urgently dispatch” a high-level delegation to Congo to find “a way out of the post-electoral crisis” in the vast Central African nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones and electric cars around the world.

“This is truly incredible,” tweeted Jason Stearns, director of the Congo Research Group at New York University. “Usually, the African Union defers to the subregion … in this case they departed dramatically.”

Congo faces the extraordinary situation of an election allegedly rigged in favor of the opposition. There was no immediate government comment. Fayulu accuses the administration of outgoing President Joseph Kabila of falsifying the results to declare opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the winner after the ruling party candidate did poorly. Fayulu has cited figures compiled by the influential Catholic Church’s 40,000 election observers that found he won 61 percent of the vote.

Two sets of leaked data show that Fayulu won the election by a landslide, according to an investigation published this week by Radio France International and other media working with the Congo Research Group.

In the first set of data, attributed to Congo’s electoral commission and representing 86 percent of the votes, Fayulu won 59.4 percent while Tshisekedi received 19 percent. The second set of data, from the Catholic Church’s mission, represents 43 percent of the votes. In it, Tshisekedi and ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary each received less than 20 percent.

Fayulu, a lawmaker and businessman who is outspoken about cleaning up Congo’s sprawling corruption, is widely seen as posing more of a threat to Kabila, his allies and the vast wealth they have amassed. Tshisekedi, the son of charismatic opposition leader Etienne who died in 2017, is relatively untested and has said little since the Dec. 30 election.

The AU statement was issued after Congo’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister briefed “a number of heads of state and government” from across the continent on the crisis. It said some of the heads of state would join the AU Commission chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in the urgent mission to Congo.

Pressure from African nations is seen as having more of an impact on Congo’s government, which was annoyed by Western pressure during more than two years of turbulent election delays. The AU statement reflects serious concern by states about the threat of more unrest in Congo that could spill across borders and destabilize its many neighbors.

But countries have wavered on how to address the crisis. The AU statement came hours after the 16-nation Southern African Development Community backed off its earlier demand for an election recount, instead urging the international community to respect Congo’s sovereignty. It stressed the need for stability in a country where conflicts over the past two decades have killed millions of people.

The AU statement noted that SADC leaders attended the wider continental talks. Congo’s election had been meant to take place in late 2016, and many Congolese worried that Kabila, in power since 2001, was seeking a way to stay in office. Barred from serving three consecutive terms, Kabila already has hinted he might run again in 2023.

Election observers reported multiple problems, including the last-minute barring of some 1 million voters in the east, with the electoral commission blaming a deadly Ebola outbreak. That alone undermines the election’s credibility, some observers said.

All of the election results, not just the presidential ones, have been widely questioned after Kabila’s ruling coalition won a majority in legislative and provincial votes while its presidential candidate finished a distant third.

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.


France seeks to exclude African Union from Libya crisis

August 3, 2017

In meetings with Libyan officials last week, France set out its plan for resolving the Libya crisis without providing a role for the African Union (AU).

Algeria has previously called for the AU to play its role in resolving the unrest in Libyan, however

France has not only isolated the African Union, but has also excluded a country whose role can be seen as pivotal in resolving the Libyan crisis for historical considerations said Jeune Afrique, which is known for its close ties to political circles in France.

The “excluded” country is said to be Italy which launched a campaign through its Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano against the French initiative that excluded all parties involved in the Libyan crisis.

Paris, under the rule of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, was the sponsor of the Atlantic military intervention, which aimed to overthrow the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Now Paris seeks to build camps for illegal immigrants in Libya to prevent them from reaching Europe.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Burundi rejects African Union peacekeeping force

December 20, 2015

KIGALA, Rwanda (AP) — Burundi’s government on Saturday rejected the African Union’s plans to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop escalating violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extended tenure in office, a government spokesman said.

If the African Union sends troops without Burundi’s consent it will be viewed as an attack, said government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba. Burundi has enough forces to maintain peace, he said. Burundi has been in turmoil since April when Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term was announced. Violence escalated following Nkurunziza’s re-election in July.

Last week 87 people died when an unidentified group attacked three military installations. Burundi’s security forces responded by going on a rampage in parts of the capital, Bujumbura, regarded as centers of opposition. Police and military are accused of dragging more than 150 civilians from their homes and shooting them at point blank range, according to human rights groups. Burundi’s government insists its troops acted professionally.

In response to the violence, the African Union on Friday authorized sending a peacekeeping force to Burundi to stop the political violence. The African Prevention and Protection Mission will be deployed to Burundi for at least six months and its mission can be extended, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said. The force’s mandate will include protecting civilians under imminent threat and helping to create conditions for holding inter-Burundian dialogue. The African Union’s decision was unusual as it did not seek an invitation from Burundi’s government for the peacekeepers.

In another effort at mediation, Burundi’s fighting sides are to meet on December 28 in Uganda to try to resolve the crisis, Uganda’s defense minister said Saturday. Fourteen groups including Burundi’s ruling party, opposition parties and civil society organizations are to attend the talks aimed at ending the violent political unrest in which hundreds have been killed, said Crispus Kiyonga, who is also the facilitator of the peace talks mediated by the East African Community. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will moderate the talks, he said.

However the chances for these negotiations are not certain as the Nkurunziza government refused to participate in previous talks. The United Nations Security Council, in a statement Saturday, expressed “deep concern about the escalation of violence in Burundi,” condemning both the attack on the military installations and the retaliatory rampage in Bujumbura. The council urged all sides in Burundi to support Museveni’s mediation effort and to cooperate with the African Union’s plan to deploy a peacekeeping force.

At least 400 people have been killed since April 26, when it was announced Nkurunziza would run for a third term, according to human rights groups. Nearly 3,500 people have been arrested in the political crisis and 220,000 people have fled the country.

Nkurunziza’s third term was opposed by many Burundians and the international community, who say it violates the country’s constitution two-term limit. Nkurunziza argues that his first term in office does not count because he was elected by parliament and not by the people.

AP writers Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya and Risdel Kasasira in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to this report.

AU summit to green-light anti-Boko Haram taskforce

30 January 2015 Friday

The African Union (AU) summit will back plans to deploy a taskforce mandated with fighting the Boko Haram militant group in four African countries, the AU commissioner for peace and security has said.

“The AU summit will approve the deployment of 7,500 African troops to fight Boko Haram in Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon,” Ismail Chergui told The Anadolu Agency on Friday.

He gave no details, however, as to which countries would contribute troops for the force.

Chergui said the Boko Haram issue had dominated Thursday’s meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council.

“This terrorist organization is threatening the security and stability of countries in West and Central Africa,” he said.

The AU summit kicked off on Friday in Addis Ababa with 40 African heads of state attending the two-day event.

Outlawed in Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, Boko Haram first emerged in the early 2000s in Nigeria, where it preached against government misrule and police corruption.

In 2009, the group became fanatically violent following the death of its leader while in police custody.

Source: World Bulletin.


5 dead in al-Shabab raid on AU base

Thu Dec 25, 2014

At least five al-Shabab militants have reportedly been killed after attacking a military base belonging to the African Union (AU) mission in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Colonel Ali Aden Houmed, spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), said on Thursday that the militants launched an attack on the Halane military base, Somalia’s largest base for AU troops, in Mogadishu.

The AU official said at least eight militants stormed the base, adding that three of them were shot dead, while two others detonated their explosives and died near a fuel depot.

Three others were also believed to have fled the scene of the attack.

The al-Shabab militant group has claimed responsibility for the assault, saying it was targeting a Christmas party at the base near the capital’s airport, which also houses UN offices.

Witnesses said the attack prompted a heavy exchange of fire between the AU forces and the militants.

The Somali government and the African Union forces have stepped up safety measures in an effort to prevent assaults by al-Shabab, which was pushed out of Mogadishu by the African Union troops in 2011.

However, the group still holds several smaller towns and areas in the center and south of the country.

Somalia has been the scene of clashes between government forces and al-Shabab since 1991.

The country did not have an effective central government until September 2012, when lawmakers elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the new president.

Source: PressTV.


African Union envoy meets Burkina Faso opposition

November 04, 2014

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — International envoys tried on Tuesday to resolve Burkina Faso’s political crisis, with the specter of a power vacuum looming after the country’s longtime president fled last week.

Opposition protesters — who said 27 years in power was enough for one man — forced President Blaise Compaore to resign and flee to Ivory Coast. Confusion ensued, with different factions of the military and the civilian opposition all vying for control.

Order has been restored in Ouagadougou, the capital, with business appearing to return to normal and no unusual presence of police or military on the streets. For now, the military appears to be in charge and has designated Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida as the transitional leader. The opposition has dropped its demands that the military immediately surrender power and is instead calling for talks to work out a solution.

But the African Union and others in the international community have held a firmer line. The African Union, which represents 53 countries on the continent, gave the West African country two weeks to return to constitutional rule or face sanctions.

Its envoy, former Togolese Prime Minister Edem Kodjo, met Tuesday with leaders of the opposition. Following the meeting, opposition leader Zephirin Diabre indicated that there may be wiggle room in the AU’s ultimatum.

“It’s clear that this is a situation where political dialogue should be allowed to take into account the exceptional nature of this particular situation,” he said. “We’ll work to respect the deadline. If we can’t, they’ll understand.”

The U.N. secretary-general’s representative for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has echoed the AU’s goal, saying he and other envoys are working to “quickly find a solution that is consistent” with the national constitution. The presidents of Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana are expected to arrive Wednesday to participate in talks.

Lt. Col. Zida, meanwhile, met with religious leaders and traditional chiefs. Afterward, the country’s Catholic cardinal, Philip Ouedraogo, said the military seemed open to dialogue. “The problem with Burkina is we are still far from certain as to exactly what is going to happen: The military has made promises that they don’t want to hang on to power but, if not, why hang on to it in the first place?” asked Jeggan Grey-Johnson, an analyst with the Open Society Foundation’s Africa Regional Office in Johannesburg.

“The military is split … and the opposition is as split as ever. Meanwhile, the president of the National Assembly has basically run away and abdicated his responsibilities, so there’s really a huge vacuum going forward,” said Grey-Johnson.

That’s worrying for a country that has served as an important ally to the West. Under Compaore’s semi-authoritarian rule, Burkina Faso was a bastion of relative stability in a volatile region and a reliable ally of the West. The country hosts French special forces and is an important partner of both France and the United States in the fight against Islamic militants in the region.

In fact, Zida himself received counterterrorism training from the U.S. government. When he was a major, he attended a course in early 2012 at the Joint Special Operations University at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, as part of a program under which the U.S. Department of Defense provides training to foreign military officers.

He also attended a Defense Department-funded course in Botswana later that year. A 2013 U.S. State Department report lauded Burkina Faso as “a strong U.S. security and defense partner” in counterterrorism in the region that “aggressively undertook measures to combat the regional danger posed by terrorist organizations.” Burkina Faso borders Mali, whose al-Qaida-linked militants took control of the country’s north for a time before a French-led intervention last year scattered them throughout the region.

The French were quick to praise Compaore’s decision to leave, and the United States called again on Monday for a civilian-led transition and elections soon. Even though calm has largely returned to Ouagadougou, members of the former ruling party and their allies asked for protection from Zida’s government on Tuesday, saying many of them have nowhere to go after their homes were destroyed in opposition protests last week.

Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin and Michelle Faul in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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