Author Archives: Europe correspondent

Sudan Al-Bashir presidency unlimited

Sudan parliamentary committee mandated with amending the Constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for another mandate informed it would indefinitely postpone a meeting to draft these changes, state news agency SUNA reports.

The decision comes amid almost daily street protests since mid-December, initially sparked by rising food prices and cash shortages, against Al-Bashir’s three decades rule.

Nigeria postpones elections

President Muhammadu Buhari said he was “deeply disappointed” but urged people to refrain from “civil disorder“, while he reacted upon the decision to postpone the vote announced by the electoral chief, Mr Yakubu, who said: “Our decision was entirely taken by the commission. It has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence.”. 

Yakubu insisted the delay was down to problems with the transportation of electoral materials – ballot papers and results sheets – to some regions of the country.

Main rival Atiku Abubakar called for patience but accused the administration of “anti-democratic acts“.

Election officials cited “logistical” reasons for delay in presidential and parliamentary polls.

Nigerian media reported about President’s Buhari decision to sack the INEC chairman Yakubu for the failure to organise the elections according tot he declared schedule.

African Union Summit opens in Addis Ababa

The leaders of  African states gather for the annual African Union #AU summit which started its activities from February 7.

The refugees and internally displaced persons are in the focus of the Summit taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nowadays Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than a quarter of the world’s 25.4 million refugees, the UN agency for refugees UNHCR reports.

However that figure is considered to be a conservative assessment because of ongoing conflicts in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

According to the United Nations, 85% of the displaced people are located in developing countries, with three African countries – Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia  among the major hosts of refugees in the world.

The activists and campaigners for human rights insist there is an urgency for the African Union to undertake practical measures to address the issue of refugees on the continent.

The #AU will also discuss a standard passport for all African countries. There are expectations that the passports will bring the continent closer to free movement of people alike in the European Union, to promote a viable alternative to current illegal migration.

The AU’s Commission promised to announce the design, production, and issue a model of a passport during the Summit.

However the problem of passports is not limited to its design, or funding. There is no tradition, neither requirement to issue birth certificates in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an exception of some urban agglomerations. The date of birth in the overwhelming number of cases is unknown, which creates a considerable obstacle in identification of  an individual. The case of a notorious Ethiopian “junior” athlete Girmawit Gebrzihair,  causing an international scandal, is a recent example of difficulties the authorities meet, while producing passports for citizens without birth certificate, based only on their affidavit, the method lacking credibility. An alternative for establishing a correct age, can be in use of medical checks with a sophisticated modern equipment, however the are no funds available to engage in such a costly practice.

 

 

EU top diplomat to visit Horn of Africa

Federica Mogherini will begin her visit to the Horn of Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where the African Union Summit is taking place and she will meet several heads of state or government in the margins.

In Ethiopia Mogherini is due to meet President Shale Work Zwede and Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, among other members of the government, to discuss further strengthening the EU-Ethiopia partnership.

The the EU top diplomat will also visit  funded by the bloc projects supporting the International Organisation for Migration together with Director General Antonio Vitorino.

Continuing her visit in the Horn of Africa,  Mogherini will visit Kenya, where she is due to meet President Kenyatta and members of the government. In Kenya, she will also launch a cross border programme, meet with representatives from the UN Habitat and UNEP, youth and civil society groups as well as inaugurating the new EU Delegation offices in Nairobi.

She will conclude her visit by travelling to Djibouti to meet President Ismail Omar Guelleh and other members of government, as well as visiting Member States’ military bases operating the EU ATALANTA maritime security mission.

The EU in the Horn of Africathe EU is working actively to strengthen its partnership with the region which shares many common interests with the European Union, from tackling climate change to boosting investment, to better managing migration and creating opportunities for youth.

The EU is a key partner for the region in many areas, in particular security with the three Common Security and Defence Policy missions: EUNAVFOR Atalanta maritime mission which fights piracy off the Somali coast, EUTM Somalia and EUCAP Somalia. The EU is also a key supporter of Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the regional body in the Horn of Africa.

Image: Benna people, Ethiopia

Uganda women as “tourist attraction” scandal

The initiative proposed in Kampala, Uganda, by Tourism Minister Godfrey Kiwanda adds curvy and sexy women to the list of attractions for tourists. Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo says the tourism minister is “misguided” and has other options to use instead of women’s bodies.

The fascination by curves of African women is reminiscent of a two centuries old story of the ‘Hottentot Venus’ Sarah Baartman who was exhibited (1810) at a venue in London’s Piccadilly Circus after her arrival from Cape Town. “You have to remember that, at the time, it was highly fashionable and desirable for women to have large bottoms, so lots of people envied what she had naturally, without having to accentuate her figure,” said Rachel Holmes, author of ‘The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Saartjie Baartman”.

BBC journalists arrested in Uganda

Police arrested a team of the BBC journalists in Uganda for illegal possession of prescription drugs, but the country’s government spokesman said the reporters had been helping to expose corruption, and demanded their immediate release.

Patrick Onyango, the police spokesman, said five suspects had been detained overnight. They included two Ugandans and one Kenyan, the wife of a local journalist from NBS Television who was working with them, and a driver.

Fourteen boxes of tablets had been seized, along with other vaccines.

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the journalists had been cooperating with the State House Health Monitoring Unit to investigate the theft and sale of Ugandan government drugs in  South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I am yet to find out the logic why police arrested these journalists, who in my view were helping government to unearth the rot which is in the system,” said Opondo. “They should be released unconditionally.”

The BBC confirmed it was in contact with the authorities over the case.

AMENDED: 8/02/2019 

Uganda police frees BBC journalists arrested over possession of drugs.

Nigerian warns West against election meddling

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai – a poweful ally of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari warned “people from overseas” who sought to intervene in the country’s election to be held in little over a week would go back in “body bags“.

We are waiting for the persons who will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country,” said El-Rufai.

The governor of the northern state of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai made the comments during a discussion programme on the Nigerian Television Authority when the subject of the international community’s role in elections was raised. It followed after an international reaction in support of a suspended Nigeria’s top judge.

We have got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible,El-Rufai added.

The talk about the role of foreign countries in elections was raised on the programme in which reference was made to concerns expressed by the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen over allegedly breaching asset-declaration rules.

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