Rwanda President Paul Kagame of has picked a team of eminent persons to work with him, as he leads efforts to reform the African Union into a more credible and self-reliant body. President Kagame was given the assignment at the 27th AU Summit to lead the overhaul of the continental body. Reliable sources say President Kagame has picked Dr. Carlos Lopes, outgoing Executive Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and former President of the African Development Bank Dr. Donald Kaberuka to spearhead the process. The two are said to have met the President earlier this month in Kigali to discuss the way forward. Others are Econet Wireless Founder Strive Masiyiwa and Cameroon's Acha Leke, a senior partner at the global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.
ICC – International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court at The Hague (ICC), the world body designed to prosecute those who commit the gravest atrocities, initially had widespread support by African nations, which made up 34 of its 124 signatories. But after prosecutors pursued cases against Africa’s sitting Presidents — African leaders began to complain that the court was biased against the Continent. This discontent has raised fears of an African exodus from a tribunal. Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said The Gambia is planning to withdraw from the ICC, following similar announcements by South Africa and Burundi, Bojang accused the court of unfairly focusing its efforts on African rulers, while ignoring crimes committed by Western leaders. Kenya, Sudan, Malawi and Namibia have also indicated that they might leave the ICC as well; and most recently add Russia to the list.
Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has said that his country wouldn't serve as a launching pad for any armed opposition activities against South Sudan. Ghandour said “Sudan wouldn't allow any armed opposition to be launched from its territory against South Sudan," he said, pointing his country continued to play an essential and active role in all regional and international initiatives aiming to achieve peace in the newborn nation. Sudan's top diplomat underscored his country's keenness to achieve peace in South Sudan, saying peace can't be achieved in the two Sudans unless it was achieved in the other country.
Egypt's Interior Ministry reported that it killed a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader it said was responsible for the group's "armed wing" and another member of the group in a shootout. Mohamed Kamal, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's top leadership, had disappeared the group said on its telegram account. The Brotherhood which is banned in Egypt maintains that it is a peaceful organization. Kamal had been sentenced to life in prison on two counts in absentia, the ministry said in its statement. Muslim Brotherhood has been waging attacks in Egypt since the 2013 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, who was a member of the group. Meanwhile, security forces have forcefully clamped down on the group.
Kenya has nominated its Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed to contest for the AU Chairperson, the top, influential post in Africa, currently held by South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The other three candidates who are battling with Ms. Mohamed are former Ugandan Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, the Equatorial Guinea Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy and his Botswanian counterpart Pelonomi Venson Moitoi.
Starting next year, Tanzania's first graders will be required to report with, in additional to their new books, a tree seedling. The primary school children are not alone. Those joining secondary schools will also be mandated to bring with them three seedlings. The Environment Minister January Makamba said the new directive, which is part of government efforts to protect the ecosystem, will apply to both public and private schools, and will form part of the end-of-school assessment. Mr. Makamba said the children must take care of and nurture the young trees they plant through their schooling years - a new requirement for granting of leaving certificates.
WEST AFRICAN COAST
Twenty years ago, Fuvemeh was a thriving community of 2,500 people, supported by fishing and coconut plantations that are now completely underwater. But in the past two decades, climate change and industrial activity - such as sand mining and the construction of dams and deep-sea ports, which trap sediments and prevent them from reaching the coastline - have accelerated coastal erosion here. Gradually but inexorably, the ocean has swallowed up hundreds of feet of coastline, drowning the coconut plantations and eventually sweeping away houses. For a time, villagers retreated, rebuilding destroyed houses farther away from the advancing shoreline. But eventually they ran out of land to fall back on: The narrow peninsula is now less than 1,000 feet across, and high tides routinely wash over the entire sandy expanse.
Somalia lost $1 billion to graft. A former top financial manager in the Somali government has released a report detailing how over $1 billion was diverted from the national budget between 2013 and 2015. Abdirazak Fartaag worked as the head of the Public Finance Management Unit between 2009 and 2011. In the report titled Breaking Point in Somalia: How state failure was financed and by whom, the whistleblower says the government receives and spends more money from donors and domestic revenue than they account for. "The deliberate deficiencies of the government in developing functional structures and accountable management controls have been conduits for budget diversion. The money is used to fund insurgencies, private investments and Islamic institutions, which fuels further anarchy in the country," said Mr. Fartaag.
"The Kingdom of Morocco has officially submitted a request to accede to the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act, and therefore, become a Member of the Union," the AU said in a statement. Rabat first announced its intention to return to the AU in July, with King Mohammed VI saying his country wanted to "take up its natural place within its institutional family." Morocco quit the AU in protest in 1984 when the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) – commonly known as Western Sahara – was admitted as an AU member. Morocco has occupied the sparsely populated Western Sahara area since 1975 in a move that was not generally recognized by the international community.
Leaders of the two sides responsible for mass killings and rapes in the South Sudan conflict have amassed enormous wealth inside and outside the country, much of it illegally, according to an investigative report released by a Washington advocacy group The Sentry, an initiative co-founded by actor George Clooney. The families and top associates of President Salva Kiir and his rival and former Vice President, Riek Machar, whose forces have been engaged in a civil war since 2013, own multimillion-dollar properties, drive luxury cars and stay at expensive hotels, "all while much of their country's population suffers from the consequences of a brutal civil war and, in many places, experiences near-famine conditions," according to the report. The report said the leaders had "benefited financially from the continuing war and have effectively ensured that there is no accountability for their human rights violations and financial crimes.
Nigeria's population reached 182 million this year with more than half its people under 30 years of age, putting a severe strain on a nation suffering from a slowing economy and declining revenue. The latest estimate is based on the population of 140 million recorded in the last census a decade ago, using an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent weighed against other variables such as rising life expectancy and a declining infant mortality rate, Ghaji Bello, Director General of the National Population Commission, said in an interview. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is witnessing a growing youth bulge, with those under 14 years accounting for more than 40 percent of its citizens, he said. This is happening at a time when the International Monetary Fund has forecast the West African nation's gross domestic product will shrink 1.7 percent this year, the first full-year contraction in more than two decades.
SOUTHERN AFRICA RAILWAY
The governments of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of a regional railway line to link Francistown in Botswana to the Mozambican port of Techobanine, through Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe. Once completed, the Port Techobanine Inter-Regional Heavy Haul Railway Project would facilitate inter-regional trade through the movement of passenger rail traffic and up to 12 million tons of goods per annum through the three countries. Botswana's Minister of Minerals, Water and Energy, Kitso Mokaila, said the MOU that was signed in Bulawayo, committed each country to contribute $200 million towards the cost of the project. The rest of the work would be done through Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), with the private sector taking the lead.
It hasn't been a good time for internet freedom in Africa, with three countries imposing social media blackouts, according to the campaign “Keep It On”. Internet users in Bamako, Mali reported not being able to use Facebook and Twitter after protests against the detention of a popular radio host turned violent, resulting in three deaths. Meanwhile, users in The Gambia, which is holding a presidential election shortly, said WhatsApp stopped working. Internet and network outages were also reported in Zambia, where protesters have been demonstrating against a presidential election narrowly won by incumbent president Edgar Lungu. Cutting off access to social media is becoming a common tactic during elections and protests in Africa, as political mobilization increasingly moves online.
Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appealed to the African Union peacekeeping troops and the local security forces to enhance security during the forthcoming elections. Mr. Mohamud said the Pan-African and Somali troops should work to secure the coming Parliamentary and Presidential elections beginning next month. The call comes after Somalia's Election Commission announced that the country's 2016 presidential election will take place on October 30. The elections will be a watershed because it will be the first time in more than 40 years that 14,025 electorates will elect the leaders. This will be an increase in representation compared to the last elections in 2012, where a council of 135 elders represented the electorate.
Leaders of Zimbabwe's opposition have united as they denounced ageing President Robert Mugabe's hold on power and called for citizens and political parties to join hands in ending the ruling Zanu-PF party's alleged misrule. In a push to unseat Mugabe, five parties recently came together to create the the Coalition of Democrats - dubbed CODE - a coalition they hoped would challenge the the head of state and his ruling Zanu-PF party in the 2018 general elections. Mugabe has ruled with an iron fist, sidelining his rivals through a combination of shrewd politics and force. The nonagenarian has recently quashed any debate about his succession by stressing his intention to stand for re-election in 2018 when he is 94.
Liberia could plunge back into civil war if the nation does not pass a historic bill protecting community land rights in a region where weak land rights have been tied to armed conflict, civil society organizations have warned. In 2014 and 2015, Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf proposed the draft Land Rights Act (LRA) and Land Authority Act (LAA), which would strengthen the rights of rural communities to land on which they have lived and worked for generations, per Human Rights Watch (HRW). In its proposed form, the act legally recognizes communities' rights to native "customary land"-defined as land owned by a community that is used in accordance with traditional practices such as crop farming.
Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests unleashed by fears by the Oromo people that the government was planning to seize their land. Hundreds of people have been killed. In early August, anti-government demonstrations rocked the Oromia and Amhara regional states of Ethiopia. Thousands of demonstrators went on to the streets calling on the government to stop killing protesters, release those arrested, implement political reform, and respect justice and the rule of law. However, the response from government security forces, which used live ammunition against protesters, led to the death of about 100 unarmed people. Although the government security apparatus reported that the demonstrations had been contained, "the current political situation has become volatile.