Category Archives: EU-Africa

UGANDA: freedom of expression abuse

Brussels 21.01.2021 The European Union is calling for Ugandan officials to lift bans on social media networks imposed in the context of the highly disputed elections. Previously the EU condemned the action by the government to shut down internet which had violated the Ugandan citizens and observers right to expression and information.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that the government had shut down social media. On January 9, Facebook deleted dozens of pro-Ugandan government accounts, saying they were “fake.” Museveni characterized Facebook’s action as arrogant. (Image: spokesperson of the European Commission).

Uganda: Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union on the elections
The European Union (EU) takes note of the results of the presidential elections declared by the Electoral Commission in Uganda:

“The EU welcomes that no major violent incidents were reported on election day but regrets that the disproportionate role given to security forces during the elections brought forth violence in the pre-electoral period, harassment of opposition leaders, suppression of civil society actors and media, and the raiding of a domestic observers office. Access to social media was disturbed, and a full internet blackout disrupted freedom of expression, freedom of information, and regular economic and social activities. In particular, this severely hampered the work of journalists, observers, party agents and others expected to report on the polling results and scrutinise them.

The EU calls on the Government of Uganda to respect the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful and safe assembly, including the free movement of all political actors and their supporters. The EU is gravely concerned by the continued harassment of political actors and parts of civil society. In line with its laws, international commitments and obligations, the Government must ensure that security services act with restraint, that any violations or abuses are duly and impartially investigated, and that those responsible are held to account.

Pending the final results of the electoral process including the parliamentary and local elections, the EU calls on all parties to refrain from any form of violence as well as from statements and actions that may incite violence, and for election challenges and complaints to be addressed in an independent and transparent manner through the available constitutional and legal remedies”.

ZAMBIA: EU calls for investigation

Brussels, 24.12.2020 “On Wednesday 23 December, Zambian Police dispersed a large group of supporters of the opposition by use of force. Two people are confirmed to have died. The EU expresses its condolences to their families” says the statement of the spokesperson of the European External Action Service – the official body of the the EU diplomacy.

The Inspector General of Police has committed to investigate the circumstances of these events. The investigation – conducted according to the laws of Zambia – should be comprehensive and open to scrutiny. This is especially important as Zambia approaches an election year, where respect for the Rule of Law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms will be critical for an inclusive, transparent and credible process.

The EU reaffirms the importance it attaches to its partnership with Zambia, a force for peace and stability in Southern Africa, and with the Zambian people”.

DJIBOUTI: Borrell on EU-IGAD partnership

Brussels 20.12.2020 “The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders are meeting in Djibouti today at a time when the region has pulled together impressively to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and a desert locust invasion. And at a time, when the stability of the region is threatened by conflicts, ancient border disputes and a diplomatic stand-off” reads the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the IGAD Summit in Djibouti.

The European Union joins the millions across the region affected by the current crises, in placing their faith in today’s summit. We support all efforts to encourage dialogue and to silence guns.

As IGAD’s most significant international partner, we also hope that the outcome of today’s meeting will bring the region a step closer to finding a sustainable solution to the ongoing crises, in line with respect for international commitments and, in particular, international humanitarian law.

Regional organisations depend on their members’ mutual legal commitments. The solidarity that binds the IGAD Member States together is crucial for future decisive action”.

The 38th IGAD extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Governments has opened in Djibouti today, chaired by Sudanese Prime Minister Dr.Abdullah Hamdok, and attended by the African Union Commission Chairperson Mousa Faki.

The recent rift between Kenya and Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, the old conflict between Eritrea and Djibouti, in addition to the Tigray region crisis, will be on table of the the summit of the The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) of East African Countries.

The Summit is taking place few days after the military operations of the federal troops in Tigray region of Ethiopia have been concluded, however the the unfolding humanitarian crisis is still going on, raising concerns of the international community facing urgent needs of tens of thousands of displaced, and refugees.

Mozambique in MEPs focus

Brussels 15.12.2020 “The crisis in the northern part of Mozambique is already causing more than half a million displaced people and more than 2,000 deaths” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while debating the situation with Mozambique with the Members of the European Parliament in Brussels.

“And we, the European Union, continue to try to help through the humanitarian, development and peace-building axis, defending human rights at the centre of our response.

As if that were not enough, Cabo Delgado, one of the poorest provinces in Mozambique, with a tremendously fragile social structure, was devastated by Cyclone Kenneth in 2019. This has only aggravated a situation that is now complicated by the extension of the terrorism that comes from the north, from Somalia.

We have specialised teams working on the situation in Mozambique. We have permanent contacts with the government and with international institutions, the United Nations, the African Union and the United States.

We have allocated 100 million euros in the resilience program with the government to respond to the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. And, of course, we are ready to study the possibility of contributing more resources.

This year we have already contributed 37 million euros in humanitarian aid, primarily to Cabo Delgado.

We are strengthening cooperation with all countries in the region, combating the impact of human trafficking – which, unfortunately, will increase with this situation – and helping to implement the Maputo peace agreement between the Mozambican government and RENAMO.
But the prospects are not positive, ladies and gentlemen. The situation in Mozambique is deteriorating under the protection and heat of natural disasters and of a country with extremely serious government difficulties.

In reality, it is the entire façade from the Horn of Africa to the Indian Ocean that is being the scene of an extension of conflicts and the spread of terrorist forces.

We are very concerned about the situation. It does not appear that we have improved in the Somalia area to the south. The recent tensions between Somalia and Kenya are not going to help either, but within Mozambique we must surely take stronger measures.

I have asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal [Augusto Santos Silva], who will assume the presidency shortly, to travel to the region as my personal envoy – since I cannot go due to scheduling reasons – and I have asked him as colleague of the [Foreign Affairs] Council, please pay special attention during your presidency to what is happening in that country, which Portugal knows very well.

Is what I can tell you. I cannot bring you many positive elements, just rest assured that we mobilize all the resources we have to act in Mozambique”.

EU calls Ethiopia to respect Humanitarian law

Brussels 04.12.2020 The EU diplomacy continues to follow closely the events in Ethiopia, insisting that “the international humanitarian law must be upheld under all circumstances and any violations be accounted for in line with the international standards and instruments”, the European External Actions Service spokesperson said, while responding to unfolding crisis in Tigray region.

“…We are following the situation in Ethiopia with great attention and coordinating very closely with the regional and international actors, our message is clear and focused on the secession of hostilities, and of the ethnic-targeted violence, protection of the civilians, in particular IDPs and refugees” the spokesperson continued.

The Tigray region has come under military control of the federal government, after four weeks of combat operation, causing tens of thousands of civilians to flee to neighbouring Sudan. The humanitarian situation in the region has deteriorated, also affecting Sudan, hosting around 50 000 refugees. There are also different estimates of the U.N. experts, foreseeing around 300 000 Tigray refugees to arrive soon to Sudan in the context of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. Some other reports blamed Ethiopian federal troops the ongoing combat operation, contradicting the official statement of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, announcing the end of the military operation in Tigray region. Different sources in Sudan, including the Sudanese military said, that the Ethiopian federal troops are preventing the fleeing population to cross the border in search for asylum in Sudan.

There is an ongoing call of the EU to all parties to put in place the conditions that will facilitate “unimpeded access to people in need, the cessation of hostilities, the non-interference of any external party, and the freedom of the media”.

According to the firm position of the EU diplomacy, the engagement with the High-level Envoys appointed by the Chair of the African Union Moussa Faki should open the door for a dialogue between the central government in Addis-Ababa and the leaders of Tigray region that is the only way forward to avoid further destabilisation in the Horn of Africa.

Mekelle shrouded in unknown

Brussels 29.11.2020 While the EU multiples its calls for peace in Tigray region, the Ethiopian government launched a manhunt on Sunday, November 29, for leaders of the political leadership of The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after announcing Federal troops had taken over the regional capital Mekelle and the military operations were completed. In the context of an issued by the government ban of journalists to enter the area, and shutdown of the internet upon the Federal government orders, the narratives of refugees fleeing to Sudan remain the major source of information about the situation in Tigray.

However, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael has communicated a message to the world that TPLF forces would fight on, raising the prospect that the violent episode could become a protracted regional conflict, destabilising the entire Horn of Africa, home to more than 200 million people.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed government has been at odds with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful regional party that dominated the central Ethiopian government from 1991 until Abiy came to power in 2018. However the crisis has unfolded when the TPLF has refused the prolongation of the Prime-minister terms under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the evening, November 28, Abiy Ahmend said federal troops had taken control of the Tigrayan capital Mekelle within hours of launching an offensive there, causing grave concerns over the protracted street fighting and shelling in the city of 500,000 people.

The Prime minister, who refers to the three-week-old conflict as an internal law and order matter and has bluntly refused international offers of mediation, said Federal police will try to arrest TPLF “criminals” and bring them to court.

Meanwhile the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) expressed their deep concern by the current armed conflict between the Federal government of Ethiopia and the regional administration of Tigray led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), including the ongoing violence and allegations of serious breaches of fundamental human rights. They call on both parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and to settle political differences by democratic means within the framework of the country’s constitution.

The resolution deplores the loss of life and killing of innocent civilians and the extrajudicial killings, regardless of their perpetrators. Parliament implores Ethiopia’s central government and the TPLF to take immediate action to deescalate the conflict and criticises the severe restrictions preventing humanitarian workers from accessing the area.

The text was adopted by 643 votes in favour, 5 against and 46 abstentions.

Ethiopia Foreign minister visits Brussels

Brussels, 24.11.2020 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell expressed in meeting with Demeke Mekonnen, Ethiopia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, “EU concerns on current conflict”.
The head of the EU diplomacy reiterated the call for all parties to de-escalate.

“The stability of Ethiopia and the region is at stake” he has underlined. In a statement, issued after the visit, the EU diplomat said that Ethiopia is undergoing “challenging times”, and expressed his “great concern” regarding increasing ethnic-targeted violence, numerous casualties and violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law. He also conveyed his analysis that this conflict is already seriously destabilising the region.

“I also discussed the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, in Ethiopia and in the region, notably in Sudan. International Humanitarian Law needs to be upheld. On behalf of the EU, I have called for safe and free movement and protection of civilians, vulnerable groups and IDPs”, Borrell has underlined.

“The message of the EU is clear: we call on all parties to put in place the conditions that will facilitate unimpeded access to people in need, the cessation of hostilities, the non-interference of any external party, and the freedom of the media. Engagement with the High-Level Envoys appointed by the Chair of the African Union should open the door for a dialogue that is the only way forward to avoid further destabilisation”.

The Ethiopian high diplomat has also visited Rome, where he had talks with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

EU contributes €183M to debt relief

The EU will contribute €183 million to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust for debt relief in 29 low-income countries, allowing them to increase their social, health and economic spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This contribution, announced just after the G20 Summit endorsed a Common Framework on Debt Treatments beyond Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), is fully in line with Commission President von der Leyen’s proposal for a Global Recovery Initiative that links investments and debt relief to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen will benefit from the contribution.

”The EU is combining injections of funds for the rapid easing of budget constraints to help the immediate response – through contributions like this one – with a sustained longer-term plan to assist partners in weathering a severe social-economic storm, which is far from over. The EU has been leading global efforts to do more on debt relief and debt restructuring efforts. It is our hope that our contribution will pave the way for others to join those global efforts” Josep Borrell, High Representative and Vice President for Foreign and Security Policy, said.

“Today, Europe makes an important contribution to multilateralism and debt relief. The EU as a member of the G20 strongly supports the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the new Common Framework on Debt Treatment. This contribution to the IMF debt relief trust is a further demonstration of our firm commitment to helping low-income countries deal with their debt burden” Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, added.

“The Commission is determined to continue supporting its partner countries in maintaining their path toward the SDGs despite dire financial situations. Debt levels were already high before the crisis and in many countries they are now simply becoming unsustainable. This is why we have decided to contribute €183 million for debt relief through this IMF mechanism” Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, stressed.

“I am very thankful to the EU for the generous contribution of €183 million to the CCRT—a critical step to help the world’s most vulnerable countries provide health care and economic support for their people during the ongoing pandemic. The EU and the IMF have a strong partnership on development financing. I urge others to join the EU and our other contributors in giving to the CCRT. Contributions from our member countries are instrumental in helping the Fund support the most vulnerable countries” Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, participated in the virtual European Foreign Affairs Council of Development ministers to maximise common awareness of the worsening debt situation in many countries, said.

The EU funds channelled through the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) will provide debt service relief to 29 of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.

The CCRT pays debts owed to the IMF for eligible low-income member countries that are hit by the most catastrophic natural disasters or battling public health disasters—such as epidemics or global pandemics. This allows them to free up resources to meet exceptional balance of payments needs created by the disaster rather than having to assign those resources to debt service.

Experience from the first two six-month tranches of CCRT relief showed that benefitting countries were able to boost their projected 2020 priority spending by some 1.2 percentage points of GDP; with expenditure on health and social protection increasing, on average, by about a 0.5 percentage point.

Another positive benefit from this short-term liquidity support is that it will also contribute to the countries’ macro-economic stability.

With this €183 million contribution, the EU becomes the largest donor to the CCRT, which so far has received over $500 million in grants from donor countries.

Low-income countries are facing large short-term liquidity needs, hampering their ability to find the necessary funds to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and fuelling concerns about a fully-fledged external debt crisis.

The EU, as a global player, can help integrate debt relief into a broader policy dialogue, financing strategies and actions, in order to ‘build back better’.

CCRT-eligible countries are those eligible for concessional borrowing through the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and whose annual per capita gross national income level is below $1,175. Vulnerable countries most seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis benefit from the CCRT.

EU-DRC: €20m for police reform

Brussels, 16.11.2020 The European Union (EU) is maintaining its commitment to the security of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by earmarking €20 million from the 11th European Development Fund for the Police Reform Support Programme over five years. This brings EU support for police reform up to a total of €60 million.

“There can be no development and sustainable growth without a more peaceful environment. That is why the European Union is stepping up its support for security, peace and stability in the DRC. We are therefore backing the DRC’s government in its determination to continue the security, defence and justice reforms now under way, with full respect for human rights” European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said.

The resumption of police reform is of paramount importance to increasing public confidence in the security forces and supporting the rule of law throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This new European aid programme is aimed at improving governance, protection for human rights and efforts to combat impunity and corruption. It has four specific objectives: improving the implementation of reforms and the accountability of the police; increasing the professionalism of the police and the criminal justice chain; improving human resource management; and, lastly, getting community policing up and running in order to restore public confidence.

Given the importance of recognising the equality of men and women and combating gender-based violence, including sexual violence, particular attention will be paid to gender issues.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the European Union has been a long-standing partner, having provided a total of €670 million from the 11th European Development Fund for the period 2014-2020.

The priority sectors for European aid in the DRC are health, sustainable agriculture and the environment, infrastructure and governance, including defence, policing, justice and public finances.

The support programmes for the security sector, and more specifically the police, have contributed decisively to the implementation of police reform in the DRC, as highlighted by the creation of the Police Reform Monitoring Committee; the drafting of a framework act on the Congolese National Police (PNC) and strategic plans for the implementation of the reform; the creation of a database of police officers; the modernisation of the administration and the creation and construction of a police academy (ACAPOL).

This support has helped professionalise the police, paving the way for a civilian police force that is impartial and at the service of the community.

The EU support for security in the country follows on from the EUPOL DRC mission carried out from 2007 to 2014 as part of the common security and defence policy (CSDP), the first and second phases of the police reform support programmes financed by the EDF (€35 million) and the Congolese National Police reform support programme implemented from 2006 to 2020 with funding from the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (€5 million).

Uganda: EU declines Observaton mission

The European Union will not deploy an observer mission for Uganda’s presidential election in January, an official said on Monday, November 16, after complaints that advice from previous observers to make the polls fair went unheeded.

In the January 14 vote, President Yoweri Museveni, 76, will face off against a dynamic pop star and lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, widely known by his music moniker Bobi Wine and who is seen as the incumbent president’s closest competitor. In the same election, voters will also pick the members of the parliament.

“An EOM (election observer mission) will not be present in Uganda in 2021,” Attilio Pacifici, EU ambassador and head of delegation to Uganda, confirmed to Reuters News agency in an email.

The diplomat aid in taking a decision not to send observers, the EU had considered whether Uganda had “made progress on recommendations provided by previous EU electoral missions.”

The EU usually sends a large team to monitor the elections, last time 94 observers, and they have stayed in the country sometimes for up to three months.

According to an EU 2018 report, none of the 30 recommendations made by the observer mission sent to monitor the last election in 2016 was implemented.

The recommendations included reforms to make the poll body more independent, elimination of excessive use of force by the armed forces and more transparency in tallying.

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