African Union (AU) leaders have chosen Chad's candidate, Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat as the next head of the AU Commission. Mr. Faki beat Kenya's top diplomat Amina Mohamed, by garnering 38 votes (of 54) in a hotly contested election during AU’s Heads of State Summit. While campaigning for the job, he said he dreamt of an Africa where the "sound of guns would be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories" and pledged to streamline the bureaucratic AU during his four-year term in office.
Morocco has been readmitted into the African Union since it left in 1984 after the organisation’s recognition of the independence of Western Sahara. The readmission was approved during the 28th AU Summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa after Morocco formally announced its wish to rejoin six months ago. 39 Heads of State out of 54 voted for the return of Morocco as a full member of AU. Morocco garnered the votes despite strong opposition by countries including South Africa who support the Polisario Front’s call for a referendum on self-rule which Morocco opposes. Morocco asked the AU to readmit it, as it seeks support for its plan to offer autonomy to the disputed territory of Western Sahara while keeping it under Moroccan sovereignty.
During the last weeks of ex-President Jammeh control over Gambia, directly before he was expelled and left Banjul, he and his then top military and security officials were recruiting mercenaries to help him retain power. It has been reported that Jammeh assembled mercenaries from former war-ravaged West African nations--mainly from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and the Southern Province of Casamance in Senegal, an area of Senegal south of The Gambia including the Casamance River. The Liberian mercenaries, were led by former President Charles Taylor's elite security commander Benjamin Yeaten. This has lead for the high security before the new President Adama Barrow arrived from Senegal, where he took his oath of office; and in high measure continues to be of high concern for the new administration and the internal security of Gambia.
Switzerland has detained former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, who is accused of committing grave abuses under the regime of ousted president Yahya Jammeh. Sonko had been one of Jammeh's top allies, serving in his Presidential Guard before leading the Interior Ministry from 2006 to 2016. Jammeh sacked him in September and Sanko fled to Sweden where his request for asylum was rejected.
Uganda's government says hundreds of members of a Congolese M23 rebel group have fled a military camp where they had been awaiting amnesty since the signing of a peace deal with Congo's government in 2014. Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said in statement that some members of M23, a Tutsi-led rebel group that once controlled vast territory in eastern Congo, "have been quietly escaping into the public." Opondo said Ugandan authorities have arrested 101 M23 members who were being ferried in trucks heading for Congo.
With Kenya's general election fast approaching - scheduled for August 8, 2017, Kenya's opposition politicians are consolidating their parties for their battle with President Uhuru Kanyatta and his new party, the Jubilee Party, by unveiling a brand-new coalition: the National Super Alliance. The coalition consists of six major political parties, with 15 others lined up to join later. The main parties are the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the Wiper Party, Amani National Congress, Chama cha Mashinani, the Narc Kenya Party, the United Democratic Party and the Muungano Party.
Ghana's main opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, has won the west African country's presidential election with an absolute majority over President John Mahama. In his first comment since the election, Mahama said on Twitter he would wait for official results, in a seemingly softer tone when a senior member of his National Democratic Congress (NDC) camp said Mahama was ahead. "Let's allow EC (Electoral Commission) to carry out its constitutional mandate. We'll make Ghana proud no matter outcome" of the election, he said in a tweet on his official account. Ghana's record of peaceful elections since 1992 and regular changes of government through the ballot box stands as a beacon in a region that has seen a series of civil wars and coups.
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party confirmed at a party conference that Robert Mugabe will be its official Presidential candidate for 2018 elections, He will be 94 at the time of the election. It seems that only Mugabe’s death, or a revolt from within his party, will end his more than three decades in office.
Representatives from Senegal's Diaspora will be granted almost 10% of seats in Parliament, underlining the key role migrants play in the west African nation's economy. More than half a million Senegalese live outside their homeland, sending back more than $1.64bn a year in remittances to their families, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM) figures. Senegal is home to 13 million people. Moustapha Diakhate, an MP with the country's ruling coalition of parties, reported that the Parliament had passed the bill increasing the number of lawmakers by 15 to 165 [9.1%], who would be elected to serve the interests of the Senegalese Diaspora.
Nigeria's anti-corruption agency is reviving a five-year-old scandal involving one of Africa's richest oil bloc Malabu OPL 245, in which a former Petroleum Minister and his allies allegedly made off with $1.1 billion dollars and the state oil company $210 million. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed suit in the federal high court charging former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete, former Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke and businessman Aliyu Abubakar with fraud and money laundering in the sale of the bloc. The issue of the Malabu OPL 245 oil bloc is also being investigated in the United States, Britain, Italy and France.
MOROCCO / NIGERIA
Nigeria and Morocco have signed a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe, Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs reported. The agreement was reached during a visit by the Morocco's King Mohammed to the Nigerian capital Abuja, Geoffrey Onyema, the minister, said, adding that the pipeline project would be designed with the participation of all stakeholders. "In this agreement both countries agreed to study and take concrete steps toward the promotion of a regional gas pipeline project that will connect Nigeria's gas resources, those of several West African countries and Morocco," Onyema said the project aimed to create a competitive regional electricity market with the potential to be connected to the European energy markets.
SAO TOME - PRINCIPE
The government of Sao Tome and Principe cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan on Dec. 21. In response, Taipei severed ties with the West African island nation and put plans in motion to close its embassy, recall its technical mission and end all bilateral cooperation projects, according to the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry. The pair first established diplomatic relations in 1997. Taipei accused China of using Sao Tome and Principe's financial problems to pressure the country to end ties with Taiwan and recognize Beijing’s “one China” policy, which bars countries from maintaining official relations with both Taiwan and China.
MOROCCO / ETHIOPIA
Morocco signed an agreement to invest over two billion dollars in Ethiopia over a five year period to build a fertilizer factory. The $2.4 billion to be invested between 2017 and 2022 in the 100 acre factory near the eastern city of Dire Daoua is expected to make Ethiopia self-sufficient by 2025. The deal was signed during the official visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI to Ethiopia to strengthen its political and South/South partnership. The agreement is between Moroccan phosphate producer OCP Group and the Ethiopian government with the former financing the project.
NO DIRTY FUELS
Five countries in West Africa have decided to stop importing "dirty fuels" from Europe, the UN Environment Program says. A recent report revealed that European companies were exploiting weak regulations in West Africa to export fuels with high levels of sulphur. Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire agreed on the import ban. The UN says the move will help more than 250 million people breathe safer and cleaner air. The sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution and are ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top global health risks.