Category Archives: East Africa

Sudan: Borrell calls for restraint

Brussels 30.10.2021 “The military coup of Monday 25 October has sparked massive and growing protests that have been met with violence. In anticipation of the announced peaceful demonstrations next Saturday 30 October, we call upon all military and police forces to exercise restraint and treat demonstrators and journalists with due respect” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell prior to the announced peaceful demonstrations in Sudan.

“The EU also repeats the call for the immediate release of all political detainees since the military coup and to respect their physical integrity and human rights”.

“An immediate return to the path of civilian led transition to democracy remains the one and only road to freedom, peace and justice for all Sudanese. A dialogue between all parties is needed to that end. We stand ready to support that dialogue and continue the support for the civilian-led transition”.

Sudan in turmoil

Brussels 25.10.2021 “The EU condemns the detention of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other members of the civilian leadership by Sudan’s military forces. We call on the security forces to immediately release those they have unlawfully detained. The actions of the military represent a betrayal of the revolution, the transition, and the legitimate requests of the Sudanese people for peace, justice and economic development” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the current political situation in Sudan.

“The right of peaceful protest must be respected; violence and bloodshed must be avoided at all cost; we also urge communication networks to be open” Borrell has underscored.

The EU will continue to support those working for a democratic Sudan with a fully legitimate civilian government ensuring peace, freedom and justice for the Sudanese people. This remains the best guarantee for the long-term stability of the country and the broader regions.

Soldiers arrested most of the members of Sudan’s cabinet on Monday and a military officer dissolved the transitional government, while opponents of the takeover took to the streets where gunfire and injuries were reported. Soraya Ali reports.

Protests have erupted in the capital Khartoum, and other cities. Three people were slain during the demonstrations. Military and civilian leaders have been at odds since President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown two years ago.

Video footage from Khartoum on Monday, October 25, showed large crowds in the streets, including many women. Barricades of burning tyres produce black smoke rising in various parts of the city.

#PandoraPapers: President Kenyatta hidden wealth

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 While Uhuru Kenyatta succeeded in a political comeback by campaigning against corruption, his family’s secret fortune was growing offshore, a massive new leak to @ICIJorg shows.

At his annual State of the Nation address last autumn, President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed Kenya’s Parliament acknowledging that too many Kenyans live in poverty and too many civil servants loot the country’s public resources.

During this address the son of Kenya’s first President and leader of one of Africa’s largest economies, the 59-year-old Kenyatta urged lawmakers to join him in fighting corruption and yet again repeated “the centrality of transparency, accountability and good governance as the anchors of sustainable development.”

However a massive amount of newly leaked documents show that Kenyatta’s family has for years been intensely accumulating a personal fortune behind offshore corporate veils.

Kenyatta, along with his mother, sisters and brother, have for decades shielded wealth from public scrutiny through foundations and companies in tax havens, including Panama, with assets worth more than $30 million, according to records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with more than 600 reporters and media organisations around the world.

The records – from the Panamanian law firm Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal) – show that the family owned at least seven such entities, two registered anonymously in Panama and five in the British Virgin Islands. One BVI company owned a home in central London, according to the records, and two other companies held investment portfolios worth tens of millions of dollars. The Kenyattas’ offshore wealth, revealed here for the first time, represents part of an estimated half-billion-dollar family fortune amassed in a country where the average annual salary is less than $8,000 a year.

The family began to accumulate much of its offshore wealth while Uhuru Kenyatta was a rising star of politics, promising defeat corruption. Two offshore companies were created during an investigation into alleged looting of the public treasury during the watch of President Daniel arap Moi, Kenyatta’s former political patron.

Under Kenyan law, the President must provide a list of financial interests to the Ministry of Finance each year. Kenyatta and his family members did not respond to requests for comment, including whether he declared any offshore interests or was required to do so.

Details of the Kenyatta family’s offshore wealth have been brought to light by the leaked Pandora Papers, a collection of more than 11.9 million records from 14 law firms and other service providers based in the United Arab Emirates, the Seychelles, Panama, Singapore and other tax havens.

The investigation has revealed assets of 35 current or former world leaders, including the king of Jordan, the prime minister of the Czech Republic, and Kenyatta’s fellow African leaders Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo.

ZAMBIA: EU congratulates Hakainde Hichilema

Brussels 16.08.2021 The European Union welcomes the announcement of results by the Electoral Commission of Zambia and congratulates President-elect Hakainde Hichilema.

We look forward to working with the new President and his government, as well as with the newly elected members of the National Assembly, to strengthen our long and productive partnership with Zambia.

As a longstanding supporter of Zambia’s democratic process, the European Union commends voters who clearly demonstrated their commitment to democracy, participating in large numbers despite the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The example set by those candidates who made timely statements of concession is also very welcome.

The EU Election Observation Mission’s preliminary assessment found that, despite a number of shortcomings during the campaign, the election day itself was largely calm and the electoral process was technically well managed. The EU Electoral Observation Mission remains in the country completing its work and finalising recommendations, on which we look forward to working closely with Zambian stakeholders.

Ethiopia voting in key elections

Brussels 21.06.2021 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (pictured) is facing his first real test at the ballot in what is Ethiopia’s first multi-party election in 16 years, albeit one riven with conflict, jailed opposition figures and parts of the country unable to vote.

Abiy said he expected the poll to be peaceful, tweeting ahead of the vote that it would be Ethiopia’s “first attempt at free and fair elections.” But some Ethiopians and political analysts disagreed with the Prime minister.

Abiy was appointed, not elected, but vowed to hold the most credible elections Ethiopia had ever seen to secure a mandate for his reform agenda.

The ruling coalition that preceded him claimed staggering majorities in the two previous elections, which observers said fell far short of being free and fair.

The poll was postponed from August 2020 to June 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of Abiy’s opponents declared him illegitimate when his term expired in October.

The election was postponed the second time to June 21 because of logistical setbacks, including delays in voter registration and a lack of electoral officials.

The war in Tigray, and ethnic unrest elsewhere, is expected to make voting impossible in large parts of the diverse country of 110 million.

The atmosphere was peaceful at one Addis Ababa polling station visited by CNN on Monday, June 21, morning. Several Ethiopians waiting patiently in line said they were voting because they hoped it would help move the country in a more democratic direction.

The European Union has long withdrawn its election observation mission to Ethiopia, citing the government’s uncooperative stance in fulfilling “standard requirements” relating to security and the independence of the observer group.

EU: Ethiopia elections ahead

Brussels 18.06.2021 Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union:
“On June 21, a majority of Ethiopian voters will be invited to participate in elections. Some constituencies will vote at a later stage, in part due to security and logistical challenges. The European Union (EU) takes note of this important step and recalls the fundamental democratic right of all Ethiopian citizens to be able to vote, everywhere in the country” reads the Declaration by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union. (Image: illustration).

“Aware of the importance of these elections for the political transition in Ethiopia, the EU has supported the electoral process and the work of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). The EU commends the efforts deployed by NEBE personnel around the country, and welcomes the public commitment of the Ethiopian government to hold democratic and peaceful elections. Yet, the EU regrets the impossibility of sending an election observation mission.

“Ethiopia remains in a complex domestic situation. Concerned with ongoing violence across the country, human rights violations and political tensions, harassment of media workers and detained opposition members, the EU calls upon the government and local and regional authorities to ensure a transparent and safe process, to guarantee the free and equal participation of all political parties and candidates who are running, to facilitate the participation of all citizens, to ensure freedom of the press and of expression as well as the safety of journalists, other media workers and election observers and to provide full logistical and administrative support to NEBE. The EU also calls on all actors to refrain from spreading hate speech and from calling for acts of violence.

“The elections could be an important step in Ethiopia’s democratic process. The EU also recalls the importance to engage in and foster a comprehensive, inclusive and transparent national dialogue with the participation of women and youth and all relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations, political parties and regional authorities, in order to strengthen democracy and to support conflicts resolution as well as reconciliation. The EU will stand by Ethiopia in the implementation of democratic reforms as well as reconciliation efforts that would emerge from an inclusive and transparent dialogue”.

EU focus on Tigray situation

Brussels 10.06.2021 “On the eve of the G7, the European Commission and the USAID join forces to open eyes of the world on the unacceptable situation in Tigray. To the people of Tigray we say: You are not alone. To the parties involved in the conflict we say: The world is watching. You will be held accountable” Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

An analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups estimates that about 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray region are in famine conditions, according to an internal U.N.

The UN report also points to grave abuses of human rights committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops in Tigray, including the looting of Saint Mary’s Hospital and Aksum University Referral Hospital.

The report says the Eritrean military has committed “deliberate attacks against civilians and summary executions, indiscriminate attacks, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary detention, destruction and looting of civilian property and displacement and abduction of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers”.

The report makes recommendations to the Eritrean government that includes providing information on the presence of its troops in Tigray and answering the allegations of human rights abuses.

It asks Asmara “to ensure that protective measures are taken in areas under its effective territorial control to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Eritrean troops present in Tigray”.

The fighting in Tigray began eight months ago when Ethiopian and Eritrean troops alongside allied militias began an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The conflict has displaced about two million civilians and left 5.2 million in urgent need, the US said.

Human rights organisations including Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International have documented incidents of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings and massacres in Tigray.

David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, said on Tuesday that “time is running out” and called on all parties to allow free humanitarian access to the region to avert a catastrophe.

Mozambique: IS attack in Palma

In Mozambique on Monday March 29 the Islamic State fighters, according to their own claims, had carried out an attack on the northern town of Palma, where dozens were killed, thousands displaced and some people remain missing. The total number of dead or missing following the attack is unknown. While tens of thousands of people may have fled, according to three aid workers. (Image above: illustration).

Islamist insurgents targeted Palma, situated next to gas projects worth $60 billion, with a three-pronged attack during last week. Fighting continued on Monday, March 29, according to a security source directly involved in efforts to secure the town.

The Mozambique government confirmed on Sunday, March 28, that dozens of people were killed, including seven when their convoy of cars was ambushed during an escape attempt.

Islamic State claimed the attack via its Amaq news agency, saying its fighters had taken control of the town after days of clashes with security forces.

They had killed at least 55 people, including a number of soldiers, destroyed and taken control of buildings including factories and banks, and seized vehicles, the news wire informs.

Most communications to Palma have been cut off since last week.

The country’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, where Palma is located on the border with Tanzania, has been plagued since 2017 by Islamist insurgency now linked to Islamic State.

“The jihadist attack on Palma, #Mozambique, is an attack on French interests and against the region’s economic development. It is also an attack of incredible barbarism. My condolences to the families of the victims” Member of French National Assembly Marine Le Pen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

Tanzania: President whereabouts unknown

Questions persist over the health of Tanzanian President John Magufuli who has not been seen in public for 11 days. Opposition leader Tundu Lissu has told the BBC that according to his sources the President is being transported to Kenya for treatment in hospital against COVID-19. The BBC has not been able to verify this report independently.

Mr Magufuli has faced criticism for his coping with COVID-19 sanitary crisis, with his government refusing to buy vaccines. The East African nation has not published its coronavirus cases since May.

Its 61-year-old president has called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.

Earlier this month, at a funeral for a top presidential aide, President Magufuli said Tanzania had defeated COVID-19 last year and would win again this year.

Mr Lissu says he was told that President Magufuli had been flown to Kenya for treatment at Nairobi Hospital on Monday night.

According to the opposition leader, the president has suffered a cardiac arrest and is in a critical condition.

There has been no official response from the government, which has warned against publishing unverified information about the Tanzanian leader, who was last seen at an official event in Dar es Salaam on 27 February.

Somali: Al Shabaab explosion in Mogadishu

Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, in which nine people including four attackers are reported to have been killed, according to Reuters Africa reports.
A car bomb exploded near a popular hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday, January 31. The explosion was followed by a shootout between militants and police. Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses said the massive blast occurred Sunday near Hotel Afrik, located in the vicinity of a busy security checkpoint en route to the Mogadishu airport.

Police say al-Shabab members stormed the hotel and many of the people inside were rescued, including Somalia’s former state minister for defense, Yusuf Siad Indha-Adde.
A VOA reporter, Abdikafi Yusuf Aden, was also inside the hotel at the time and survived.
“There was confusion and thick smoke rose up after the blast occurred. People were jumping down over the wall as we ran for our lives,” Aden told VOA News Somali.

Somali General Nour Galal is among the victims of the attack in Mogadishu local media reports.

Aden said he saw at least three people injured where he was hiding, but was unable to confirm what happened outside or on the other side of the hotel.
VOA reporters in Mogadishu said dozens of people were still trapped inside as night fell and security forces engaged attackers in an operation to end the siege.
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