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Ethiopia: urban violence continues

Six people were injured on July 2 in slashes between Ethiopian security forces and mourners attempting to attend the funeral of Oromo singer and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, whose assassination earlier this week sparked protests, causing violent death of at least 80 people.

“…While the country mourns the loss Hachalu Hundesa, the Chairperson appeals for calm, restraint by all sides and calls on all Ethiopians to refrain from acts that could further escalate the current situation” reads the statement of the African Union Chairman H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, who is monitoring the recent developments in Ethiopia closely, following the killing of Haacaalu Hundeessaa.

The Chairperson calls on the Government of Ethiopia to bring the perpetrators of such heinous act to face justice and encourages all sides to resolve differences through dialogue and peaceful means in order to allow adequate efforts towards preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popular Oromo singer, 36, was shot dead in the capital Addis Ababa on June 29 by unknown gunmen and was laid to rest later at a church in Ambo, his home town about 100 km west of the capital. He leaves behind three daughters, the youngest a month old. The slain singer’s wife, Santu Demisew Diro, gave a short speech after mourners laid wreaths.

Late Haacaaluu’s songs were popluar among a generation of Oromo protesters whose three years of anti-government demonstrations finally forced the unprecedented resignation of the Prime minister, 2018, and the appointment of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Oromo have long complained of exclusion from political process. In recent months, some Oromo activists who initially supported Abiy have become more critical, accusing ignoring he legitimate interests of the Oromo people.

The singer’s killing sparked protests in Addis and surrounding Oromiya region, leading to violent clashes, which left behind more than 80 people killed.

Ghent removes Leopold II bust

Belgium city of Ghent removed a bust of King Leopold II from one of the city parks, in a symbolic gesture aligned with the celebration of 60 years of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former colony.

“This symbolic action is received as a relief by the Congolese community,” said Marie-Laure Mulayi . “Finally, we are being heard.” The student from African origin, she leads Umoja student union, devoted to multiculturalsm.

During the ceremony on Juin 31, testimonies were read by inhabitants of Ghent with African roots.

“Today is a very important day. But it is not the last day. This is the start of a process, not an end. The battle continues. We will continue to do our best and hopefully we will have a better world soon. ”

“Today we want to turn a black page in our history,” said ships Tine Heyse (Green party). After a minute of silence, the removal proceeded. After the statue was removed there was brief applause.

The bust was brought to a depot of the Ghent City Museum. It will be examined later to assess the damages made by vandals. The nameplate with the inscription “Leopold II, King of the Belgians” and the pedestal on which the statue stood will remain for the time being.

The time when the controversial statue was removed was kept secret. The City of Ghent did not wish to make it a public event, indicating that they were determined to respect social distancing and other sanitary norms in the situations of coronavirus pandemic.

The controversial statue has been damaged several times by vandals in recent weeks. On Juin 31 in the evening, the Belgicist association Pro Belgica made a final tribute to the statue.

There are different reaction of the removal, also those who think it is wrote to erase past. “Ghent capitulates. One criminal, Leopold II, is now replaced by another, who has been canonized: George Floyd. All under the guise of ‘the fight against racism and discrimination” writes on his Twitter micro blog Sam van Rooy, the Flemish politician and Member of Flemish parliament.

Michel addresses Nouakchott Summit

“I am not physically present at this time in Nouakchott but know that I am with all my heart with you“, said the President of the EU Council Charles Michel, addressing the Summit in Mauritania capital, Nouakchott via teleconference. In his speech “Alongside the G5 Sahel, the European Union keeps its commitments” he reiterated the message of support and determination of the EU to continue the strategy of joined international efforts to defend Sahel from criminal networks, and terrorism.

I naturally want to start by thanking you, in a friendly and warm way, dear President in office of the G5 Sahel, Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani. I would also like to thank the President of France, dear Emmanuel Macron, for joining me again in these essential exchanges. I also want to salute the participation of the different countries that join us. I see this as a sign of a dynamic that is encouraging.

The Pau Summit last January was an opportunity to give new impetus to our relations. It is up to us to transform the test, while the situation on the ground, as we know, remains difficult, remains worrying on different fronts. Violence has claimed some 4,500 lives in the Sahel in the past 6 months. And we know that the pandemic we are facing does not help the situation.

As you know, in January in Pau, we agreed to organize a G5 Sahel-EU summit. It took place virtually on April 28. It was an extension of our meeting in Pau. This April 28 Virtual Summit was a boost for our partnership. It was an opportunity to reaffirm our mutual responsibilities. It was an opportunity to re-mobilize all the European institutions and the Member States of the European Union. In a way, he “Europeanized” the Coalition for the Sahel. An additional step was taken with the Ministerial Conference on June 12 which “internationalized” this Coalition, which is naturally essential. I of course welcome the commitment of the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, and the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Since the Pau Summit, we have made precise and very concrete progress. They are all testimony to this commitment that we want to strengthen alongside you:

– First, more and more European Member States are either already contributing or are going to contribute to Takuba, by deploying special forces or equipment, or by politically supporting this task force;

– Then, we have just adopted a new program to support Niger’s efforts in the fight against criminal networks linked to terrorism. You know that we were inspired for this by the excellent work of the Joint Investigation Teams which are already mobilized in the fight against the smuggling of migrants;

– The EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) has seen its mandate extended and its budget reinforced. As I speak, 95% of the workforce requested has already been made available by the 22 out of 27 Member States participating. As soon as conditions allow, we will deploy the entire workforce;

– Finally, we reconstructed the Joint Force Command Post which has just been inaugurated in Bamako, two years after the attack which had destroyed the headquarters of Sévaré;

– In addition, nearly 200 million euros in additional funding has been announced to strengthen security, stability and resilience in the region. And concrete projects are ready to be launched;

– The same dynamic is at work concerning support for the deployment of the State and basic services. This is the keystone, as we well know, for our stabilization efforts, with the P3S initiative [1]. The European Union will also coordinate it;

– You also know that we are working to update our strategy for the Sahel, in dialogue and of course taking into account your priorities;

– Finally, a word, Mr President, you mentioned it and we have discussed it together in recent months, concerning debts. You know that this is an issue that is close to my heart and for which I wish to take action. Because I consider this question legitimate, certainly at a time when your economies, your societies, are under pressure, a fortiori in connection with this crisis of COVID-19 which strikes us and strikes you.

I can hear your appeal on the subject of debt cancellation. You know that I am committed to being sincerely involved on this subject, and I do intend to open the debate. It is done, in the European space this debate has now started. Within the European Union, the ministers for international cooperation have taken up the subject – an important subject also for Heads of State and Government. I also intend to conduct this debate within the framework of our international contacts. I thus had the opportunity, in the last virtual summits in which we participated, with Japan, with China also a few days ago, to systematically put this point of debts on the agenda. Because we understand that this is an issue that must mobilize the entire international community.

I also know that we can also count on Italy, which will assume the presidency of the G20 next year, and which, I am sure, will have a positive outlook, in particular on the debt moratorium. It is a work of conviction to carry out. And it is my intention, modestly but tenaciously, to take my part on behalf of the European Union. Finally, dear friends, you know that my ambition, my hope, is to be able to organize a meeting between the countries of the European Union and the G5 Sahel in order to continue to address all the subjects. As you can see, European commitment is not an artificial incantation: it is a reality with commitments and concrete effects. We can and must build together an area of security and economic prosperity. We must build an area where good governance reigns, and where the rule of law and fundamental rights also prevail. And I would like to say that the rule of law is not a footnote. The strength and honor of a state governed by the rule of law is not to fall into the trap of violence from its enemies. It’s not to look like the ones we fight. It is to make justice prevail – the same for all, the same for everyone. A word to conclude. We agreed at our previous summit to meet again with the leaders of the G5 Sahel. I am sure that with President Ghazouani, we will have the opportunity to work actively with you, with all of our peers, to try to continue to progress together. You can count on the commitment of the European Union. We stand by your side. I send you from Brussels my sincere and friendly greetings to those who are physically present in Nouakchott”

Belgium King appologies for Colonial past

Here is the letter that Belgium King Philippe sent to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, as part of the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sovereign expresses “deep regrets” there. (Translation from original in French):

On this sixtieth anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I extend my warmest wishes to you and to the Congolese people.

This anniversary is an opportunity to renew our feelings of deep friendship and to rejoice in the intense cooperation that exists between our two countries in so many fields, and in particular in the medical field, which is mobilizing us during this pandemic period. The health crisis strikes us amidst other concerns. The privileged partnership between Belgium and Congo is an asset to face it. On this national holiday, I wish to reaffirm our commitment by your side.

To further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to speak of our long common history in all truth and serenity.

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today rekindled by the discrimination still too present in our societies. I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified.

Global challenges demand that we look to the future in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The fight for human dignity and for sustainable development requires joining forces. It is this ambition that I formulate for our two countries and for our two continents, African and European.

The current circumstances unfortunately do not allow me to go to your beautiful country, which I would love to know better. I hope I will have the opportunity soon. “

G5 Sahel Summit in Nouakchott

President Emmanuel Macron will travel to the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Juin 30 for a Summit of West African leaders to discuss the ongoing combat operations against Islamists in the Sahel region, Elysee Palace office said last week.

French President intends to request Mali and Burkina Faso for guarantees on their commitments in favor of peace, so as not to jeopardize the military gains recently acquired on the ground, said a source at the Elysée on Juin 29.

“All the progress recorded is fragile and can be jeopardized if the political dynamic is not suitable,” he continued.

The Prime Minister of Sapin Pedro Sanchez and the French Head of State Emmanuel Macron are due to make their first trip to Africa in person on Juin 30 since the coronavirus pandemic.

The G5 force operates with the over 5,000-strong French Barkhane force which has been deployed in the Sahel for the last seven years but has encountered increasing resistance from the Islamists, desiring to restore the historic Chaliphate of Sokoto.

The meeting in Mauritania comes six months after a Summit in Pau, France, where the leaders vowed to strengthen the efforts to defeat the jihad in Sahel.

After the Nouakchott meeting, the six leaders will hold video talks with other key players including European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said a French presidential official.

The other European leaders the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the Italian Council Giuseppe Conte will participate in this summit only by videoconference. Five G5 Sahel heads of state and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guiterres, and the president of the EU Council Charles Michel will join by teleconference.

Political criis in Mail has agrravated the situation in Sahel, and caused concern of the European Union, one of the major humanitarian sponsors of the region. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has warned about the risk of a protracted poliitical crisis for the security and stablitiy of the region.

Malawi opposition wins presidency

On Juin 27 Lazarus Chakwera, Malawi opposition leader, was declared the winner of a re-run presidential election, replacing incumbent Peter Mutharika’s discredited win 13 months earlier. For the majority of independent analysts the victory has been assessed as a triumph for democracy in Africa.

Chakwera, 65, secured the required majority, with 58.57% of the vote on Juin 23, the electoral commission said, winning over Mutharika. Chakwera won election to a five-year term as President of the nation of 18 million people.

“My victory is a win for democracy and justice. My heart is bubbling with joy,” Chakwera said after his win, which sparked wild late night celebrations on the streets of the capital Lilongwe, his stronghold.

A rerun of the 2019 election was ordered after the Constitutional Court found the ballot had been marred by widespread irregularities.
That election saw President Mutharika narrowly re-elected by fewer than 159,000 votes.
Mr Chakwera, who came second in that election, argued that tallying forms had been added up incorrectly and tampered with.

The opposition leader, a former cleric, heads up the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Born in Lilongwe to a subsistence farmer, the philosophy and theology graduate has pledged to raise the national minimum wage, among other reforms.

Borrell: EU ready to assist Sudan

“…I would like to start by paying tribute to the Sudanese people: women and youth in particular, who fought for peaceful change and for the ideals of freedom, peace and justice” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at Sudan Partnership Conference.

“During my visit to Sudan last February, engaging with members of the civil society and students at Khartoum University, I was struck by their resilience, aspirations and determination.
It is thanks to their efforts and sacrifices that we are facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring Sudan back on track in terms of peace, democratic governance and economic recovery.

“Sudan is today a light of hope in Africa and the transition process towards a fully democratic dispensation needs to be strongly supported and carefully nourished. We cannot fail the Sudanese people.

“I want to acknowledge the leadership of Prime Minister [of Sudan, Abdalla] Hamdok. All actors and political forces should align themselves in support of the Prime Minister. I call on the military to protect and support the transition. I call on the armed groups not to miss this opportunity to be part of the new Sudan, I call the Forces For Freedom and Change to maintain unity and cohesion on the road to reforms and elections.

“This, altogether, should allow for the swift establishment of the Transitional Legislative Council and the appointment of civilian state governors, as strong democratic institutions are key to any political transition.

“There have been many important legal reforms already achieved such as the criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation. But despite the difficult context, further exacerbated by the pandemic, political reforms need to continue.

“This is why the European Union – besides our support to the Office of the Prime Minister– will also become the main donor to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sudan to ensure that the Government has the necessary tools and capacity to advance with the political reform agenda. The European Union also stands ready to assist Sudan with the upcoming elections.

“The economic track also needs to deliver. Unhappily, we have seen too often in the past how political transitions have been undermined by the lack of economic deliverables and dividends of the peace brought to the population. Whenever transitions have failed, the bill for the international community has been finally considerably higher. Thus, supporting Sudan’s transition here and now –because now is the time to do so- is not only an expression of solidarity, but an investment which is worth making for Sudan, for stability and development in the region, from Libya to the Central African Republic, from Egypt to Ethiopia, in order to set a reference for the world.

“In the run-up to this conference, we have been encouraged by the commitment of the international community at large to help Sudan at such critical juncture.
I call on all partners to work together to allow Sudan’s transformation and its reintegration in the international financial system. Our presence today will show -I hope- our collective determination from Europe to the Gulf, from North America to Asia.

“From our part, the European Union will be putting forward a sizeable pledge as a continuation of our strong support to the transition and commitment to improving the lives of the Sudanese population”.

EU co-hosts conference on Sudan

On Thursday 25 June 2020, Sudan, the European Union, the United Nations and Germany will co-host a virtual High-level international conference. Around 50 countries and international organisations will take part in the Conference. While the Sudanese Government commits itself to carry the 2019 revolution reforms forward, almost 50 countries and international organisations are offering Sudan a partnership to support the country throughout the political transition up to the elections in 2022.

This Conference will be the opportunity to reiterate the strong political support of the international community to the ongoing transition in Sudan.

It will also aim at mobilising financial support for the democratic transition, economic recovery and humanitarian needs, as the coronavirus pandemic added another strain to the country’s economic situation and increased the humanitarian needs. The conference will also provide a platform for the country’s authorities to present the reforms undertaken so far. The goal is to also raise enough funds to kick-start a social protection programme by the World Bank and the Sudanese Government that helps Sudanese families in need. The partners will also support the International Monetary Fund to open up Sudan’s road towards debt relief.

The conference will start at 15:00 with an opening panel discussion with the participation of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell Fontelles, his co-chairs Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. They will discuss the reforms and steps undertaken since last August by the Transitional Government as well as the way forward.

There will be a pledging round during which the EU pledge will be delivered by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

Between the pledges, the Sudanese Reform Agenda will be discussed with the Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ibrahim El-Badawi, Sudanese Minister of Labour Lena el-Sheikh Mahjoub and representatives of the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Last year, the world watched in admiration as hundreds of thousands of Sudanese men and women took to the streets to peacefully demand change in one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. As months of protests led to the fall of President Omar al-Bashir’s regime and the first civilian Government in over 30 years, the Sudanese people showed the world that peaceful change is possible.

Borrell on Mali stability risks

“The political crisis which has been shaking Mali for several weeks is carrying risks for the stability of the country and the region” reads the statement of the Euorpean Union top diplomat Josep Borrell.


“The European Union welcomes the peaceful nature of the protests and the willingness of all political actors to maintain the dialogue in order to reach a broad consensus on the future of Mali.

“The European Union fully supports the good offices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which dispatched a high-level mission to the country, as well as the proposals to end the crisis contained in its press release. press of June 19.
“The European Union joins the United Nations and the African Union in calling on all actors to dialogue and restraint. We encourage the authorities to quickly take decisions that will make it possible to overcome the crisis, in particular on post-electoral disputes”.
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Burundi President calls opponents to return

After new President of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye was sworn in early following the sudden death of his predecessor, he promised to unite the country that has been cut off by the intrnaiotnal aid donors due to endemic human rights abuses.

Ndayishimiye, 52, a retired army general, was declared the last month’s presidential election winner as the ruling party’s candidate, defeating the opposition’s Agathon Rwasa and five others. In accordance with the procedures, he had been due to take office in August, but the sudden death of Pierre Nkurunziza this month opened his way forward.

“I will defend Burundi’s sovereignty and ensure freedom of every Burundian citizen and protection,” Ndayishimiye said at the ceremony in Gitega – the political capital of the country.

New President urged people who had fled the country, including critics of politics and human rights activists, to return.

“What did those who went to complain to the world, get? I rather call on them to come back,” Ndayishimiye said.

Ndayishimiye headed the department of military affairs under late President Nkurunziza, and served as minister of the interior and security.

The United Nations said in recent years that under Nkurunziza’s rule members of the state security forces and the ruling party’s youth wing routinely gang-raped, tortured and killed political opponents.

Burundi, the nation of 11 million people is one of the world’s poorest countries. It became an international pariah after Nkurunziza crushed protests triggered by his decision to run for a third term in 2015.

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