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Côte d’Ivoire: EU concerned with violence

“On the eve of the presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, the European Union associates itself with the statement by the Secretary General of the United Nations” reads the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, addressing the upcoming presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire.

“It expresses its greatest concern following the violent incidents and hate speech observed in recent weeks. “She urges all political actors to show responsibility, restraint and reject any violence.
It calls on the institutions in charge of the electoral process to ensure a transparent, credible and peaceful ballot”.

Ivorian voters have planned vote this Saturday, October 31, to designate their President. The campaign for this ballot has already resulted in around thirty deaths – mainly due to hate crimes between the north and south – and there are fears of new violence on the election day and during the announcement of the results.

The opposition parties have insisted that the incumbent President Ouattara has served the maximum two terms allowed by the Constitution. Mr Ouattara’s supporters insist that the two-term limit was reset when a new constitution was adopted in 2016.

Henri Konan Bédié, 86, from Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PCDI). Served as president between 1993 and 1999, deposed in coup, and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, 67, from Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) faction, who served as prime minister between 2000 and 2003 under then-President Laurent Gbagbo are the major competitors of the incumbent President Ouattara.

WTO: U.S. refuses Nigerian candidate for top job

The leadership race for the World Trade Organization has been thrown into disarray after the United States opposed the appointment of former Nigerian finance and Foreign affairs minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose candidacy has been also supported by the European Union. The American delegation has not explained the reasons of the refusal.

Following discussions among EU leaders during their summit in Brussels last week, the bloc agreed to back the Nigerian Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala after a period of reflection, caused by a number of member-states opinion to give preference to the South Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee for the job of the next director-general of the WTO.  Ambassadors from the EU’s 27 member states confirmed on Monday, October 26, that the bloc would support the African candidate Dr.Okonjo-Iweala.

The WTO’s decision-making process is based on consensus, and either candidate will need to win the blessing of all 164 members.

Ghana: EU sends Observation mission

In response to an invitation by the Electoral Commission of the Republic of Ghana, the European Union (EU) will deploy an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the general elections scheduled for 7 December 2020. (Image: Ghana, Elmina port)

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, has appointed Mr Javier Nart, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer.

“The deployment of this Election Observation Mission confirms our long-term commitment to supporting peaceful, credible, and transparent elections in Africa and elsewhere around the world. Under the leadership of Chief Observer Mr Javier Nart, the EU EOM will provide an independent assessment of the electoral process and work together with Ghanaians to strengthen further the country’s democratic institutions” High Representative Josep Borrell said.

“It is a great honour for me to lead this Election Observation Mission, which I assume with a great sense of responsibility. For the third time the EU accompanies the election process in Ghana and I trust that state authorities, political parties and all candidates will play their part in promoting a peaceful and credible process” The Chief Observer, Javier Nart, said.

The Core Team of the EU Election Observation Mission consists of 9 election experts who will arrive in Accra on 31 October and stay until the completion of the electoral process. On 7 November, 40 Long-Term Observers will join the mission and will be deployed across Ghana’s 16 regions. Their capacity will be reinforced by up to 30 locally recruited Short-Term Observers on election day.

After election day, the mission will issue a preliminary statement and hold a press conference in Accra. A final report, including recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented and shared with stakeholders after the finalisation of the entire electoral process.

This EOM is the EU’s third EOM to Ghana after two in 2008 and 2016, as well as an Election Follow-up Mission in 2019.

The EU has a long-standing partnership with Ghana. We share a broad common agenda to promote regional economic integration, peace and security, democracy, rule of law and human rights as well as to tackle global challenges.

WTO: EU supports Nigerian candidate

Brussels 26.10.2020 According to an EU official the bloc has taken decision to put its weight behind the Nigerian candidate D.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.

Apparently the discussion took place at the latest EU Council, some member-states were not ready define their preferences, and it took a lot of effort from the president Charles Michel to reach consensus in this matter.
The choice of an African candidate is a “strong signal in support of the multilateral order”, the official added.
The decision is also symbolising the EU trust in Africa, and underlines the significance of the relations between two continents.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala brings more than 30 years of development and financial expertise to the Gavi Board. She has twice served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, most recently between 2011 and 2015 – a role that encompassed the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy. In 2006 she served as Foreign Affairs Minister. She has also held several key positions at the World Bank, including as Managing Director.

As a former Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s experience and expertise are particularly valuable as Gavi strives to ensure that immunisation programmes are financially sustainable. Her strong commitment to finding private sector solutions to development challenges further contributes to Gavi’s mission.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is currently a senior adviser at Lazard and serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Center for Global Development, among others. She is also the chair of African Risk Capacity, a specialised agency of the African Union to help member states prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Being one of renown economists, she was named by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 greatest world leaders in 2015, and by Forbes for five consecutive years as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world. In 2014, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was recognised by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Dr.Okonjo-Iweala is the author of several books including “Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria”, published in 2012.

A development economist and former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since 1 January 2016.

EU expects negotiated solution for Ethiopia Grand Dam

Brussels 26.10.2020 The European diplomacy fully supports the efforts of South Africa, the African Union chair, to conclude talks between Egypt-Ethiopia-Sudan on Renaissance Dam on Blue Nile with a successful agreement to advantage of all inhabitants of the Blue Nile basin.

“Over 250 million of citizens of the Blue Nile basin stand to benefit from the predictable agreement based on the negotiated arrangement for the filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, they are expecting the investment in water security, aggregation, agricultural production, and electricity generation” the EU spokesperson said, reacting upon the resumption of the talks from October 27 after two months pause, caused by the departure of Egypt delegation.

“The agreement of the filling of the gerd is within the reach of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, now is the time for action, and not for increasing tensions. The efforts of South Africa, the current chair of the African Union to bring the parties to the negotiated solutions have the full support of the European Union which looks for to the imminent resumption and successful conclusion of the talks” the spokesperson added.

Negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over a giant multi-billion dollar dam on the Blue Nile will resume on Tuesday,October 27, nearly two months after Egypt delegation left the talks, African Union chairman Cyril Ramaphosa said on October 26, Monday.

A dispute between the three countries over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

“The resumption of the trilateral negotiations on the GERD … is a reaffirmation of the confidence that the parties have in an African-led negotiations process,” Ramaphosa, who is South Africa’s president, said in a statement.

President Buhari “detached” speech

Brussels 23.10.2020 “It is alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria” the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell said, reacting upon the events in Lagos. “It is crucial that those responsible of abuses be brought to justice and held accountable. Following the Government’s will to deliver on reforms, we expect to see decisive implementation” the EU diplomat has underlined in his Tweet micro blog.

Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerian on the issue of the unrest that has overwhelmed the country in recent days, but without making any mention of the shootings of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza on Tuesday, October 20, night that caused international outrage.

The military opened fire without warning on thousands of peaceful protesters singing the national anthem in the night, killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International.

The shootings have been widely condemned but Buhari did not speak of them at all during his Thursday,October 22 address, instead urging the protestors to stop their actions.

“This government will not allow anybody or (any) groups to disrupt the peace of the nation,” Buhari said in his TV address, urging protesters to “resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.”

“For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and law and order,” he said. “Under no circumstances would this be tolerated.”

Buhari called on Nigeria’s youths “to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.”

The President responded to the criticism he has received from African heads of state and other world leaders by calling on them “to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position, or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.”

While as Buhari was addressing the nation, irate Nigerians flooded social media with denunciations.

“President Buhari during his speech refused to acknowledge those dead as a result of military attacked on Lekki protesters #EndSARS,” tweeted Usman Okai Austin.

UN Libya envoy expresses optimism

The United Nations’ acting envoy to Libya said she was “quite optimistic” that ongoing talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire, after they agreed to reopen land and air routes across front lines.

Speaking midway through marathon talks, Stephanie Williams said the sides had also agreed to maintain “the current state of calm on the front lines and avoid any military escalation”.

“After two days of the first face-to-face direct talks between the two Libyan delegations to the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which have been marked by a great degree of patriotism and professionalism and insistence on maintaining Libya’s unity and defending the country’s sovereignty, I am pleased to report that the two sides have reached agreement on several important issues which directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people, namely” the statement reads.

“That is why I continue to be very optimistic that the parties here are going to reach a more lasting and permanent ceasefire,” she told a news conference at the U.N. in Geneva.

The first flights between Tripoli Airport and the main eastern city Benghazi would resume this week, and the sides had agreed to make progress on an exchange of detainees, Williams has underlined.

This year, the conflict has aggravated due to support of foreign powers. The Tripoli Government of National Accord administration (GNA), with backing from Turkey, halted a 14-month assault by Haftar’s Libyan National Army to take control over the capital with the backing of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign countries involved in the conflict “need to take their hands off of Libya”, Williams warned. Both parties have previously agreed that after a lasting ceasefire agreement is reached, all foreign forces and mercenaries must withdraw within three months, under U.N. supervision, the envoy has underlined.

Libyan oil output resumed in August after an eight-month blockade by the LNA, but the state producer, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), has underlined that the risks are imposed by a force that guards oil sites. Williams said the sides had agreed to delegate commanders from both east and west to work with the NOC on a proposal to restructure the guards to ensure oil flow.

An announcement by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj that he intends to step down by the end of this month “should help end the long period of transition” and move towards a democratically elected government, she said.

This week’s meeting between GNA-Tripoli and LNA-Benghazi military negotiators in Geneva will be followed by a political dialogue in Tunis from November 9, Williams informed.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. At present the East Libyan authoritity – the Tobruk parliament backed by the Libyan National Army, led by Marshall Khaftar – does not recognise the status of Tripoli administration of Al-Sarraj. They repeatedly underlined in various statesments that the Shkirat Agreement (December 17,2015, Morocco), which has given a mandate for one year to the reconciliation goverment in Tripoli, has been expired a long time ago. They reiterated, that the result of this failure to realised the mandate within one year led to the «unconstitutional» status of the Tripoli government, while the status of the Tobruk parliament has been recognised the UN Security Council as the Libya sole legislator.

EU increases support to Sahel

Brussels 20.10.2020 Today, the European Union, Denmark and Germany and the United Nations co-host a virtual Ministerial Roundtable on Africa’s Central Sahel region, with the participation of donors and international organisations, as well as the countries concerned: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The event will discuss longer-term perspectives for countries in the region to overcome the spiral of violence and humanitarian crises they are currently facing. It also aims at mobilising support for the region, especially as coronavirus pandemic increases humanitarian needs.

Representing the EU at the event, Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, will pledge a total of €43.6 million on behalf of the EU to the three countries in the Central Sahel region for the rest of 2020.

“Throughout recent years, the EU has been particularly committed to the Sahel and international support provided has been significant. Yet, the security, social and humanitarian situation in Central Sahel is only deteriorating. In face of this dramatically worsening situation, together – the international community and the governments concerned – we must do better, more and act fast. Only by addressing the deep-rooted causes can we succeed in providing a better life to the people caught in the crises afflicting the region” Lenarčič said.

“Today’s conference is a very clear sign of our solidarity towards the Sahel region and its people. Our €20 million support to the World Food Programme will help the most vulnerable in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and especially pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children. We hope to assist 65,000 people next year with this project. If we all join forces along the peace-development-humanitarian nexus and our partner countries take responsibility for improving governance and reforms, I am convinced that we can make a difference for the people in the Sahel. Team Europe will keep on supporting the people of Sahel” Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships said.

The EU’s pledge consists of: €23.6 million in funding for humanitarian actions in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
€20 million in development funding to address the food crisis afflicting the Central Sahel region, in cooperation with the World Food Programme.
Overall, EU and the EU Member States have mobilised around €8 billion since 2014 to help stabilise the Sahel region.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are at the core of one of the world’s fastest growing humanitarian crises created by a combination of conflict, climatic changes and poverty. It is estimated that a staggering 13.4 million people across the Central Sahel are in need of humanitarian assistance.

In 2020, the EU has mobilised a total €84.6 million in humanitarian assistance for Central Sahel countries, including the amount that will be pledged today. In June 2020, the EU also organised two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Burkina Faso, carrying 26 tonnes of humanitarian supplies and equipment needed for the coronavirus response in the country.

Since 2014, the EU has invested more than €3.4 billion in development cooperation for the three Central Sahel countries Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, with the objective to strengthen the capacities of the state in the long term, while providing a short and medium-term response to the needs of the most vulnerable population. The investments covered a broad range of areas: from security; good governance; transparency; public finance; the respect of human rights to basic social services (education, food security and health).

Libya: Putin’s aid under sanctions

The Council today imposed targeted restrictive measures on one person engaged in and providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Libya, including through violations of the UN arms embargo. The sanctions imposed against this person comprise a travel ban and an asset freeze. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed.

Russian citizen Yevgeny Prigozhin participates and helps the activities of the Wagner PMC in Libya, which threatens peace, stability and security in the country. In particular, Wagner is involved in numerous and repeated violations of the arms embargo in Libya, established by the UN Security Council resolution, the EU document reads.

Restrictive measures include a travel ban to the European Union and an asset freeze.

In September, the UN committee of experts on overseeing the observance of sanctions accused 11 companies, including PMC Wagner, reportedly owned by Prigozhin, of violating the arms embargo on Libya. According to experts, in May Wagner company provided 800-1200 mercenaries to help the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar.

The media reports claimed that Russians from Prigozhin’s company are not only training soldiers of the army of LNA Marshal Khalifa Haftar, but also participating in combat operations, and supporting them with logistics. Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin suggested that there might be presence of Russians in Libya, adding that they “do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”

“If there (in Libya) there are Russian citizens, then they do not represent the interests of the Russian state,” Putin said during a press-conference in January 2020. They also “do not receive money from the Russian state,” he added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied the presence of PMC Wagner’s mercenaries in the region. At the same time, Haftar’s LNA admitted that “a small number of Russians” help them with the maintenance of weapons. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke about the presence of Russian fighters in Libya.

In addition to the Wagner PMC, the UN accused 10 more companies that provided logistical support to the LNA of violating the arms embargo. These are airlines registered in Kazakhstan, Syria, Ukraine, Tajikistan, as well as two companies from the UAE.

With this new designation, the EU now has imposed a travel ban on 16 listed individuals and an asset freeze on 20 persons and 19 entities.

The Council remains gravely concerned about the situation in Libya and in particular about the acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Libya, including through violations of the UN arms embargo, human rights abuses and violations as well as the attempted illicit export of petroleum from Libya.

The EU’s sanctions complement and reinforce the sanctions adopted by the UN, which include the UN arms embargo and individual measures, including for human rights abuses.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal.

Recently Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has detained Abdalrahman al-Milad, a coastguard commander sanctioned by the United Nations for alleged human trafficking and migrant smuggling, its interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said it had detained Milad at the request of the U.N. Security Council and that it had referred the case to the public prosecutor to take legal measures against him.

Milad heads a coastguard unit in Zawiya, just west of Tripoli, and was one of six people sanctioned by the U.N. for involvement in people trafficking or smuggling in Libya two years ago.

MALI: 25 perished in attacks

Islamist militants are suspected to be a group behind the killing 25 people including 13 soldiers in multiple attacks in central Mali, burning down an army base and ambushing troops sent as reinforcements, the army and local authorities said on October 13.

The attacks were the deadliest since the August 18 military coup d’état ousting unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and came just days after scores of jailed jihadists were freed by the interim government in a prisoners for hostages swap.

Nine soldiers were killed in the first attack that took place overnight against a base in Sokoura near the border with Burkina Faso, the army statement reads.

At around 8:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) on Tuesday, on October 13, another three soldiers were killed in an ambush at a bridge near the base as their unit headed to the scene of the first attack, the army statement explains.

Nine militants were killed in clashes with the reinforcement unit and two of their vehicles destroyed by the air force.

In a third assault about 40 minutes later near the town of Bandiagara, gunmen ambushed a commercial truck, killing 12 traders and one soldier, according to Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of nearby Bankass, to which the traders were en route.

A witness said he saw nine bodies at the military base and helped transport 20 wounded to local medical centres.

“They (jihadists) took all the vehicles and burned those they could not take away. The camp is burned,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

A transitional government has been appointed since the military coup. But regional and international powers fear the violence could further destabilise the West African nation and undermine a French-directed military campaign against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the wider Sahel region.

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