United ECOWAS, AU can salvage Africa – UN chief Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says ECOWAS intervention in The Gambia shows that a united ECOWAS and AU can take firm decisions against undemocratic forces and promote the freedom of the people on the continent.

Guterres, who made the remarks at a press briefing at the UN Headquarters on Wednesday in New York, commended the region for its contributions to promoting peace and security.

“What the Gambia episode has demonstrated is that when the neighbours of a country are together, when the sub-regional African organisation is united and the African Union is united, then it is possible for it also to decide.

“It is possible for action to be taken and for democracy, human rights and the freedom of the people to be defended.

“When there is division in the region, it is much more difficult for the UN to be able to act accordingly.

“I think we made an enormous progress in creating the conditions for a much more effective cooperation with the different African entities and the UN in addressing some of the most complex crises that we face.”

Guterres explained that his participation at the just concluded AU Summit was successful, saying that the objective of the UN and the AU was achieved.

According to him, his objective was to establish a higher platform of cooperation between the two organisations in relation to the sustainable of the African continent.

He added that establishing a higher platform in relation to the AU and UN cooperation in peace and security in so many areas of concern on the African continent was also his other objective at the summit.

The UN chief noted the unfortunate South Sudan crisis, saying that something urgent must be done to halt it and reverse the country to the road to peace.

He regretted that as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, his first mission was to go to Uganda to celebrate World Refuge Day with South Sudanese refugees in that country years back.

According to him, the 500,000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda then went back home when the country was created with a lot of hope inspired in them.

“You can imagine now how tragic it is in South Sudan.

“And so one of my objectives was to try to establish a strong mechanism of cooperation between sub-regional organisations – African Union, IGAD and the UN.

“This is in order to be able to do everything possible to avert the worst in South Sudan and to bring the South Sudanese situation into a better track for peace.”

According to him, he had a Summit meeting with AU and Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on South Sudan.

“The summit agreed to work together to ensure the national dialogue that would be launched in South Sudan is truly inclusive, including all the key elements of the position.

“Ex-President Conare of Chad, the African Union mediator was fully empowered to launch a mediation process with total support of the UN, in close relationship with IGAD to monitor the peace process to ensure the dialogue is truly inclusive.

“In meeting with Salva Kiir, it was agreed that there will be better cooperation both for the UN peacekeeping force to operate freely in South Sudan and for the regional protection force to be put in place,” he said.

Guterres also said that an agreement was reached with Kenya for the country and other key neighbours to work together with the same objective and voice on South Sudan.

“This is to try to create a condition to avoid what could be a dramatic situation on ground and to put on track a peace process aiming at giving future hope to the South Sudan,” he said.


Source: NAN

African Union’s collective withdrawal plan from ICC suffer setback

The plan by members of African Union (AU) to collectively withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) may suffer a setback as Nigeria and some other countries objected the proposal.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Addis Ababa.

Onyeama explained that there was a strategy adopted by AU for collective withdrawal from the ICC which Nigeria did not subscribe to.

The minister said that when the issue came up during a meeting, several countries kicked against it.

He said Nigeria and others believed that the court had an important role to play in holding leaders accountable, hence Nigeria fully stood by it.

“Nigeria is not the only voice agitating against it, in fact Senegal is very strongly speaking against it, Cape Verde, and other countries are also against it.

“What they (AU) do was to set up a committee to elaborate a strategy for collective withdrawal.

“And after, Senegal took the floor, Nigeria took the floor, Cape Verde and some other countries made it clear that they were not going to subscribe to that decision,” he said.

According to him, a number of countries also took the floor to say that they needed time to study it before they acceded to that position.

He said that Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, Botswana and host of others were not willing to withdraw from the court.

While faulting AU position on ICC, Onyeama stressed that each individual country willingly acceded to the 1998 Rome Statue on the setting up of the court.

“Each country free and willingly acceded to the Treaty, and not all of the members of the AU acceded, each country acceded individually exercising its own sovereign right.

“So each country, if they want to withdraw has the right to do that individually,

“The issue is that the AU which was not a party to the Rome Statues which established the court, should not be developing a strategy for a collective withdrawal for something that each country entered into individually.

“Those who feel they want to withdraw should do that individually.”

NAN reports that in what seems to be a continental domino effect, three African states in 2016 publicly declared their intention to withdraw from the court.

The countries include Brundi, South Africa and The Gambia, with the reports that Namibia, Kenya and Uganda were contemplating withdrawing from the ICC

The court has repeatedly been criticized by African states as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African countries.

This argument is supported by the fact that nine of the ten situations under investigation, with three others under preliminary investigations, involve African countries.

However, as noted from a social shorthand by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), “the rift is often caused by a neat difference in priorities.

“Where one gives more importance to peace processes, while the other gives more weight to obtaining [international] justice.”

African state parties to the Rome Statute make up the biggest regional membership, comprising 34 of the 124 members.

From 2009, African countries have called for collective withdrawal from the ICC but some countries have pushed back.

ECOWAS, AU, UN to ensure Jammeh’s liberty to return to Gambia when he chooses

The ECOWAS, African Union and UN have said they would work with the new Gambian government to ensure that former President Yahya Jammeh was at liberty to return to the country when he wanted.

The former president left Banjul on Saturday to go into exile after he was pressurised by the ECOWAS to rescind his earlier decision not to accept the outcome of Dec. 1 presidential election, which saw him losing to the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow.

Mr. Jammeh’s return would be in accordance with international human rights law and his rights as a citizen and a former head of state, they stated in a joint declaration in Banjul.

They commended the “goodwill and statesmanship” of the former president for facilitating “an immediate peaceful and orderly transition process and transfer of power to President Adama Barrow in accordance with the Gambian constitution”.

They also commended him for his interest in the Gambian people and preserving the peace, stability and security in the country.

The declaration stated that Mr. Jammeh’s departure from The Gambia on Saturday was temporary adding that it was in order to assist a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power and the establishment of a new government.

The blocs noted that his leaving was without any prejudice to his rights as a citizen, a former president and a political party leader.

They further assured that host countries that would offer “African hospitality” to the former president and his family do not become undue targets of harassment, intimidation and all other pressures and sanctions.

They also committed to work with the current government to prevent the seizure of assets and property lawfully belonging to Mr. Jammeh or his family and those of his cabinet members, government officials and party supporters.

“Further, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it fully guarantees, assures and ensures the dignity, security, safety and rights of former President Jammeh’s immediate family, cabinet members, government officials, Security Officials and party supporters and loyalists.

“ECOWAS, the AU and the UN urge the Government of The Gambia to take all necessary measures to assure and ensure that there is no intimidation, harassment and/or witch-hunting of former regime members and supporters, in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia,” they stated.

The regional organisations said they would work with the government on national reconciliation to “avoid any recriminations”.

They also assured that they would take all measures to support the maintenance of the integrity of the security forces and guard against all measures that would create division and a breakdown of order.

“Pursuant to this declaration, ECOWAS will halt any military operations in The Gambia and will continue to pursue peaceful and political resolution of the crisis.”

Meanwhile, President Adama Barrow has said he would return to The Gambia on Monday.

Mr. Barrow confirmed this on his twitter handle, @adama_barrow, on Sunday.

He said: “I will be returning to my homeland, the Republic of The Gambia tomorrow. #Gambia.”

Mr. Barrow, who took the oath of office in the Gambian Embassy in Senegal on Thursday, has assured citizens who fled that “they now have the liberty to return home”.

He succeeded Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the Dec. 1 presidential election and refused to vacate office when his 22-year rule expired midnight on Thursday.


Source: NAN

INTERVIEW: Africa has no future without unity – AU Chairmanship aspirant

At a time Africa is battling with tribal conflicts and communal strife, the African Union requires a strong leadership capable of mobilising the people at home and abroad to build a new continent, an aspirant has said.

prof-bathily-2A two-time minister and former member of the Senegalese Parliament, Abdoulaye Bathily, says he possesses the expertise and experience to take up the challenge as he aspires to be elected Chairman of the African Union Commission.

Mr. Bathily, who is also the Special envoy to the UN Secretary General and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa spoke with PREMIUM TIMES’ Bassey Udo in Abuja on his ambition.

PT: What is your inspiration to run?

BATHILY: It has been my life commitment to the cause of the African people as a pan-Africanist from my early days as a young student leader, trade unionist; and my adult life, as academic and critical leader in Senegal, member of Parliament and executive branch of government. Throughout, I have been involved in African activism, to liberate Africa and make African people autonomous and have a ‘’second liberation.’

The first liberation was about national anthem and the flag. But, the second liberation has to do with economic freedom and social emancipation.

I have already worked with the African Union as special envoy on migrations of rural pastoralists and other conflict issues in Madagascar, and different countries in Africa at different positions.

I participated in peace operations on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, as a member of the ECOWAS parliament.

In the United Nations, I represented the Secretary General in the peacekeeping operations in Mali. Until May this year, I was the special representative of the United Nations in the Central African region, representing the 11 countries of the region, from Chad to Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Gabon, Cameroun to others.

So, for me it is a lifelong engagement and commitment to Africa. Throughout my career, I think I have the competence, and conviction to give my contribution at this stage to the AU and make the organisation relevant to the African people, to get all the stakeholders involved in the process of reinventing the Union.

PT:  On the issue of the second liberation, what has been of concern to most Africans has been how to change the narrative about Africa as perpetual producers of raw materials and dumping ground for products from the western world. How would your second liberation agenda change this if elected?

BATHILY: On the occasion of the 50thanniversary of Organisation of African Unity/AU, I published a material on Africa in the magazine of the Commission. The focus was for Africans to do away with the Berlin Syndrome.

Recall that in 1885-86, the European powers met in Berlin, Germany for a Conference, where they partitioned and shared the African continent among themselves. Africa became a territory of different colonists, fragmented and Balkanized for ‘raw materials’ for their factories.

Till today, these tendencies are still there. The colonial division of labour still exists. The time to break from the past is now.

PT: How would you do this?

BATHILY: Apart from the former colonial masters, we have new partners today. But, this syndrome is still there. Whether it is China or India or Japan, they are shipping raw materials back home to produce goods they will bring back to sell at higher cost to Africans.

I think it is important to go for full-scale industrialization of Africa. We cannot continue to have an economy that is externally driven.

Industrialization means to create the social basis for survival. We cannot industrialise on the basis of only foreign investments, which will only focus on areas of concern to them and their interests.

For us to create the conditions for sustainable development, we must have an industrialization and modernization of agriculture driven by African investors themselves.

It is important to create a class of real African entrepreneurs, who invest their money in productive sectors of the African economy and create the basis for sustainable industrial, agricultural and service development, not renters.

We must reproduce the productive forces and social basis from within Africa, not outside. Many people think the talk about regional integration is just about creating infrastructure.

Yes, we need roads, dams and energy. But, this is not enough. We have to create African engineers through our education system relevant to this.

We have to create a new corps of entrepreneurs who would invest in those areas, instead of foreign companies coming with engineers and other categories of workers to build roads and infrastructures.

Once these professionals are there, even for simple maintenance, one would not need to call the foreigners. This cannot create development. It must not be allowed to continue.

It is important to sensitise the people. With me as the Chair of the AU, we will call upon African entrepreneurs to come together and create pan-African corporations. So, we have one Dangote, Elumelu and hundreds of others from other countries coming together to form one group, to look for African engineers from within and outside Africa to handle our infrastructure development challenges.

PT: For long the issue of a common market for Africa keeps resonating. But, there are barriers making it difficult for this to happen. How would you make this to happen under your Chairmanship?

BATHILY: This is all about free movement of people and goods. We have been talking about it.

For instance, ECOWAS is regarded as pioneers in regional integration, in terms of free movement of people and goods. But, the region’s trade with other countries in the region is minimal, because of trade barriers.

The borders of the different countries feature several corruption activities affecting trade between the regions.

Till now, our trade is more with outside. We have to sensitise the government to accelerate the process of integration. This is one area the Commission should sensitize the governments to set up structures they could work with to give a new impetus to pan-African trade. I hope to make this a priority.

PT: A one-time AU Chairman and former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, has been spearheading the campaign against resource curse and illicit financial flows that has cost Africa dearly. Given the chance, how much attention would this receive from your leadership?

BATHILY: President Mbeki has done a wonderful job in this regard. The study his team made, going round to sensitise the people, not only the African governments, but also outsiders, particularly on the negative impact of issues like tax evasion by multinationals, unfair customs rules and tariffs as well as corruption activities, went a long way to open the eyes of the people. It is important to create conditions for government to be aware of this reality and push for new rules and regulations to cut off those links with outside.

I am not only commending his efforts, but, given the chance, I will ensure that his recommendations are implemented to the latter.

PT: Can you tell us in specific terms what your agenda are in this race?

BATHILY: My agenda is to try to revive the spirit of pan-Africanism. This is basically to make the young people aware that Africa has no future without unity. The Diaspora must play a role in mobilizing the people and injecting their knowledge and know-how for the future of Africa.

But, there are some burning issues that I want to bring to the fore. Talking about regional integration, this is not something we can avoid if we want Africa to really take off on a decisive and sustainable manner.

There is also the issue of democratisation and good governance. Most of the conflicts we have in Africa today stem from lack of good governance, in terms of democratic process, rule of law, safeguard of individual and collective freedoms, free, fair elections, the end of massacres of Africans by Africans. These are issues we have to tackle.

Some progress have been made over the past 20 years. When we look back from country to country, region to region, we can see the differences.

For instance, West Africa has gone further than other regions, like the Central Africa, where the situation is still behind.

We have to have a firm and stable democratic transition to government based on the consideration of diversity. We can rule our country without looking at how best we can manage diversity in our continent.

We have to take into account how to manage the ethnic, political and religious diversities and create a society of tolerance, in a spirit of progress and not parochialism.

On governance, we must address the issue of conflicts, because it is lack of good governance and management of resources that lead most societies to conflicts.

In my career, I have been involved in conflict management – in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries in West, East and South Africa. This opportunity would be key, to fight from the front.

We have to have a very stable political and democratic transition in our countries. Unless we manage conflicts and rebuild countries free of conflicts, we cannot speak of development and stable society.

So, peace and security is one dimension we have to focus on very closely. And I have the expertise and the experience to handle those.

Besides, because of my academic background, I have taught and learned about the African society as an historian by profession.

I have been involved in current issues in the Council for Development of Economic and Social Issues in Africa, an academic forum for researchers all over Africa on current and past issues on Africa.

I have accumulated enough knowledge that would be at my disposal to illuminate my activities as the Chair of AU.

There are other important issues, like the problem of women and their roles in development.

Women are under stress on a daily basis. They are also victims of all sorts of discriminations, traditional and modern. We have to do something that would allow us share the best experiences on practices in women involvement in national and international activities.

There is also the issue of young people. Millions of our youth are educated, but job opportunities are not there for them, because the economic and political systems do not give them the opportunity. We will work hard to create the opportunity for our youth.

PT: From all these, what’s in your agenda for ECOWAS as a region, particularly on the issue of promoting regional trade and integration?

BATHILY: ECOWAS as a regional organisation has set the tone for many issues. When one looks at the African peace architecture, the experience comes from ECOWAS. Even the peace building mechanisms and the protocols for good governance, elections and human rights at AU level are based on the ECOWAS experience.

ECOWAS should be considered one of the leading lights in the continent. In fact, the AU cannot work without regional organisations like ECOWAS as the building blocks.

Consultations with the regional organizations will be my mark. As pillars in the process of regional integration and peace building, we have to consult regularly with the regional bodies.

It is important for AU to support what the regional organisations are doing, morally and politically. Working with them will be key in our quest to achieve peace in Africa.

Also, it will be important to put in place consultative mechanisms with all stakeholders on the continent, professional organisations, including media practitioners, private sector groups, women organisations, youth groups, to listen to them. The activities of the Commission will be inspired by their own feelings, proposals and fit into their activities, such that the AU will no longer be regarded as the organization of the government alone, who meet in Addis Ababa to take their decisions which are either not implemented or known by ordinary citizens. To make the AU relevant to all the stakeholders in Africa – at regional and professional levels. What should we do to redress the negative image of Africa? That’s another big question we must address. We must do something to change the negative image of Africa and the black people in general.

There is also something to be done about the general reform of the Commission itself. We have to have a Commission that is functional and responsive to the needs of the people.

We have to carry out the reform of its structures, which will require a lot of resources. Till now, more than 80 per cent of AU activities and functions are sponsored based on donors’ handouts. This cannot continue.

How can we talk about sovereignty and independence of Africa if we have to ask European Union, American or foreign partners for support to pay for all our programmes.

There are a number initiatives we will undertake. There were proposals for alternative funding of the AU, which have not been implemented in the past. There is a current proposal to fund the AU through taxing members about 2 per cent of the imports outside Africa.

If this is implemented, it will go a long way to enable AU to finance many of its activities and get rid of this dependency over partners.

These are things I believe, given the chance, they will be implemented to create hope for the African people and make the organisation relevant to the people.

We’re Worried About Violence Shown By Some Zimbabwean Police – EU

Ahead of a planned national stay-away in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, the EU has expressed its concern at rising cases of police violence towards protesters.

“Use of force should only be considered as a last resort,” the EU delegation to Zimbabwe said on Tuesday in a statement likely to anger officials close to longtime president Robert Mugabe, which says Western embassies are behind the wave of protests currently rocking this southern African nation.

In power in Zimbabwe for the last 36 years, Mugabe is taking an increasingly hard line on protesters, with police using tear-gas, batons and water cannon to beat back not just those taking to the streets but also bystanders unlucky enough to be caught up in the chaos.

The #Tajamuka pressure group behind Wednesday’s stay-away has urged Zimbabweans to avoid the streets and any confrontation with police – but it’s still not clear how widely this protest will be followed.

Anti-Mugabe campaigners held two stay-aways in July but only the first was widely followed.

No single leader of the protests

Analysts say many in Zimbabwe’s struggling economy simply cannot afford to take time off while others – including schools – were ticked off by the authorities for responding to the strike calls. Schools are on holiday in Zimbabwe this month.

On social media there are complaints that few are aware of the strike call (though it has received the backing of the Combined Harare Residents Association, which has members in the capital’s townships). Since the leader of the #ThisFlag protest movement, churchman Evan Mawarire, was forced into exile last month, protests have been staged on a near-daily basis by a variety of groups.

There is no single leader of the protests.

Clearly worried by footage and pictures of police turning on protesters in Harare recently, the EU said: “Police have a duty to facilitate the conduct of undisturbed peaceful demonstrations and petitions.”

Earlier on Tuesday the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he’d visited a 62-year old woman seen being kicked by police outside a court in Harare on Friday.

Lillian Chinyerere “sustained shoulder injuries and is now hard of hearing” but still wants to take part in the next protest, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party said.

VP Osinbajo Wants AU To Declare Corruption A Crime Against Humanity

Nigeria has formally requested the African Union (AU) to declare corruption a crime against humanity. The country blamed the impoverishment of African people on corrupt leaders. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said on Wednesday at the inaugural JF Ade Ajayi Memorial Lecture held at the University of Lagos, that the request had been tabled. The late Ajayi was one of Nigeria’s foremost history scholars, and former vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos.


Thousands of lives


Prof Osinbajo said the problem of corruption must be escalated as the vice was clearly the most devastating affliction on the African people. Corruption, he noted, was the single leading cause of poverty on the continent. Drawing on the Nigeria situation, he said: “Corruption of a few has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars, destinies lost and futures destroyed.’’


The wasteland


He also wondered how anyone could explain “the wasteland that is the Niger Delta today’’. Prof Osinbajo described the “needless elongation of the insurgency in the North East’’ and “continuing human and environmental tragedy in the Niger Delta’’ as two recent tragedies orchestrated by corruption. The vice-president recalled that some estimates showed that some Niger Delta state earned more than many African countries every year, but they had nothing to show for such fortunes.


Moral tradition


We must demonstrate that it is un-African for leaders to perpetrate the immorality of stealing the future of our children,” he stressed. The vice president hailed the virtues of the late Ade Ajayi as worthy of emulation.


The legacies of men and women like the great JF Ade Ajayi must be held aloft as the examples of the African moral tradition.’’

Jonathan Leads AU Election Observer Mission To Zambia

Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is to lead the African Union Elections Observation Mission, AUEOM, to the Zambian general elections scheduled take place on October 11, 2016.

Recall that former President Jonathan was named to lead a 33-nation observer mission to the Sunday, October 25, 2015 General Election held in Tanzania.

A statement posted on AU’s website yesterday stated that Jonathan would be leading members of the short term mission to join the continental body’s deployment of long term election experts who are already on ground in Zambia, adding that the chairperson of African Union Commission, AUC, approved it. The statement read: “The Chairperson of the AUC has approved the deployment of African Union Elections Observation Mission, AUEOM, to the General Election scheduled to take place in the Republic of Zambia on October 11, 2016.

“The deployment of the AUEOM will take place in two phases. The first phase comprised the deployment of long term election experts and took place from July 14 to August 22, 2016 and is made up of 10 observers.”

“For the first time, the AU long term experts include election/ legal political/media/campaign analysts.

“The objective is ensure that the AUEOM approaches its work with added professionalism and factual analysis of the legal, political, electoral, media and campaign aspects of the electoral process in Zambia.

“At the second phase of the Mission, the long term experts will to be joined by Short Term observers from the August 1 to 15, 2016.

“The Short Term Mission will be headed by Goodluck Jonathan, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The AUEOM draws its mandate from various African Union instruments, most importantly: (a) the AU Guidelines for Elections Observation and Monitoring Missions, 2002; (b) the OUA/AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, 2002; African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, 1981, and (c) African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, 200), among others.

“The objectives of the Mission is (a) to provide an accurate and impartial reporting or assessment of the quality of the 25th October General Elections in the United Republic of Tanzania, including the degree to which the conduct of the elections meets regional, continental and international standards for democratic elections; (b) to offer recommendations for improvement of future elections based on the findings; and, and (c) to demonstrate AU’s interest to support Tanzania’s elections and democratisation process to ensure that the conduct of genuine elections contributes to the consolidation of democratic governance, peace and stability in Tanzania in particular and the East African sub-region in general.”

Credit: Vanguard

Donors Pledge $250m To Fight Boko Haram

Donors at the African Union summit pledged on Monday $250m for the fight against Boko Haram insurgents, AU Peace and Security Council chief Smail Chergui said.

Boko Haram, facing the heat of a military onslaught in Nigeria, has in the past year stepped up cross-border attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, while continuing shooting and suicide assaults on markets, mosques and other mostly civilian targets within Nigeria itself.

Despite offensives by the regional force with troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, the Islamist jihadists maintain strongholds in areas that are difficult to access.

On Saturday night, the terrorist group attacked Dalori, a village four kilometres outside Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, allegedly killing 86 people including children.

But Chergui praised the success of the force at the close of an AU summit on Sunday, saying territory had been wrested back.

“Great results have been achieved and we must consolidate these gains,” he said.

Chergui said $110m came from Nigeria, with the European Union offering €50m, as well as donations from Britain and Switzerland.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby, the African Union chairman, said it was crucial the money pledged was actually paid to show “our firm commitment in the fight against terrorism.”

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said gains had been made but much more needed to be done.

“Boko Haram is no longer able to operate freely as in the past or control territories as they did,” he said.

“We are making tremendous progress in this battle, but we still need to remain vigilant, we need to share information and cooperate.”

More On Obama’s Speech During AU Visit

Closing a historic visit to Africa, President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged the continent’s leaders to prioritize creating jobs and opportunity for the next generation of young people or risk sacrificing future economic potential to further instability and disorder.

He said the “urgent task” of generating jobs for a population that is expected to double to around 2 billion people in the coming decades will be “an enormous undertaking.” But he said it can be achieved with U.S. help.

“Africa will need to generate millions more jobs than it is doing now,” Obama said in a speech to the entire continent delivered from the headquarters of the African Union, a member organization of African nations. “And time is of the essence.”

“The choices made today will shape the trajectory of Africa — and therefore the world — for decades to come,” said Obama, who is seen by the people of Africa as one of their own. It was the first speech to the AU by a sitting American president.

The speech marked the end of Obama’s five-day visit to Africa that included an earlier stop in Kenya, homeland of his late father.

Obama also called on Africa’s leaders to make their countries more attractive to foreign investment by cleaning up corruption, upholding democratic freedoms, supporting human rights, and willingly and peacefully leaving office when their terms expire.

Obama, who is more than halfway through his second and final term, said “I just don’t understand” the phenomenon of leaders who refuse to step aside when their terms end. He referred to Burundi’s leader, who was just elected to a controversial third term although he is constitutionally limited to two. The announcement that President Pierre Nkurunziza was seeking a third term sparked days of unrest across the country.

“There’s still so much I want to get done to keep America moving forward. But the law is the law and no one is above it, not even presidents,” Obama said. “And, frankly, I’m looking forward to life after being president. It will mean more time with my family, new ways to serve, and more visits to Africa.”

He called on the AU to use its authority to help make sure African leaders stick to their term limits and follow their constitutions. “No one should be president for life,” said Obama, who leaves office in January 2017.

Africa’s progress will also depend on security and peace, since businesses and wealthy people won’t want to invest in unsafe places, the president said.

He pledged continued U.S. training assistance and other support in the fight against terrorism carried out across the continent by groups like al-Qaida, the Islamic State, al-Shabab and Boko Haram. He said the world must do more to help, too, and announced that he will host a summit at the United Nations in September to secure additional support for international peacekeeping, including in Africa.

Obama said Africa’s impending population boom could bring tremendous opportunities for the continent on the one hand.

“On the other hand,” he said, “we need only look to the Middle East and North Africa to see that large numbers of young people with no jobs and stifled voices can fuel instability and disorder.”

Before addressing the AU, Obama highlighted his administration’s efforts to combat hunger by touring a Faffa Foods factory that participates in the U.S. Feed the Future program. The initiative focuses on helping smaller farmers in 19 countries, including Ethiopia and 11 other African nations, expand their businesses.

Read More: AP

Obama Addresses AU, Emphasizes On Human Rights

Barack Obama arrived at African Union headquarters Tuesday, where he will become the first US president to address the 54-member continental bloc, at the end of a tour focused on corruption, rights and security.

In his speech, President Obama addresses climate change, security, food security, human rights and democracy.

Details on his speech will be brought soon…

Nigerians Divided Over AU’s Single Currency, Passport Proposal

Nigerians were on Monday divided over the proposed introduction of single currency and passport by the African Union (AU) for its member states. While some of them told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that it was a welcome development, others cautioned against its implementation.

Mr Mubo Oladigun, a financial expert, said the proposal though a welcome development, could face lots of challenges in its implementation. He said one such challenges was the differences in political systems and culture among African countries. He, therefore, advised African leaders to jettison the idea of single currency and concentrate on delivering on good governance.

Mr Babatunde Johnson, a banker, said that African leaders should not be in a hurry to copy every policy adopted by Europe. He cautioned that the project worked in Europe did not imply that it would succeed in Africa given the socio-cultural make up of the two continents. Johnson said African leaders should rather concern themselves with the best way to miximise the human and material potential on the continent to ensure its development.

Mrs Felicia Ikechukwu said the proposal was a welcome development, adding that “it will further unite us as Africans.”

It would be recalled that Mr Anthony Maruping, AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs on June 12 in Johannesburg said African leaders were contemplating adopting a common currency and passport. “The single currency, passport is aimed at connecting Africa through world class infrastructure with a concerted push to finance and implement major projects”, he was quoted as saying.


Boko Haram: Buhari Orders The Release Of $21m To Joint Task Force

President Buhari has approved the sum of $21m to aid in the fight against Boko Haram..Speaking at the AU summit yesterday ,he said

I am pleased to note that Cameroon, Chad and Niger are already showing this attribute by fighting alongside Nigeria under the umbrella of Multinational Joint Task Force to defeat Boko Haram.
“In this regard, the member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin met recently where far-reaching decisions were taken to immediately put into operations the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“To this end, the summit approved the immediate provision of $30m for the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“Consequently, out of the pledge of $100m, which Nigeria made to the Multinational Joint Task Force, I have directed that $21m be released within the next one week.

Buhari To African Leaders: My Efforts To Stop Boko Haram

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, briefed African leaders on his efforts towards combating the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North-East even as he challenged them to collectively stop the sordid stories of migrants dying across the Mediterranean Sea.

In an address presented at the opening ceremony of the 25th ordinary session of the African Union, AU, Buhari also paid respect to former President Goodluck Jonathan for helping to avert a crisis in the country by facilitating a smooth transition in power.

Noting the challenge against his administration from Boko Haram and his efforts towards overcoming the threats by the group, he said: “Our continent is currently bedevilled by the twin evils of terrorism and insecurity, poverty, youth unemployment, and underdevelopment.

“The destructive effects of the inhuman and criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgency in
Nigeria and neighbouring countries; the Al-Shabab attacks in East Africa, and the activities of the Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, all bear testimony to a continent under siege.

“I was convinced on my assumption of office that the best approach would be to work within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, to mmobilizecollective support to fight against Boko Haram. I have in this regard, directed the relocation of Nigeria’s Command Centre to place it closer to the theatre of action.
“At this juncture, let me assure you of the unflinching commitment of Nigeria to the ideals and aspirations of the African Union as explained in the Agenda 2063, which is geared towards ensuring a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa in the next 50 years. It is for this reason that Nigeria is fully and irrevocably committed to the ECOWAS vision.

Lauds Jonathan on transition Acknowledging Nigeria’s historic transition and the role played by his predecessor, he said: “The election was also held against the backdrop of the fears and concerns expressed both in Nigeria and among our international friends abroad and partners that the outcome of the election could spell doom for Nigeria. I am glad that even though those fears and concerns were not without basis, the outcome was totally different, to the relief of all of us.

“I cannot fail to acknowledge the very positive role played by my predecessor, H.E. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in averting the feared crisis, and in facilitating the peaceful transition of power between the two parties.

“I also wish to express my deep appreciation to all who honoured us with their presence at my inauguration, and even those, who for unavoidable reasons were unable to attend”.

Angelina Jolie Makes Star Appearance At The AU Summit (Photos)

Hollywood Star, Angelina Jolie made a star appearance at the 25th African Summit in South Africa.

The actress who is also a U.N. special envoy on refuge issues bothered on rape as a weapon of warfare and charged African leaders cum representatives to support women rights.

Jolie stressed the need for women protection in Africa and beyond.

Jolie had been invited to speak on women and conflict at the Sandton Convention Centre, on Friday.

She shared a panel with the African Union Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Senegalese activist Bineta Diop.

Zainab Bangura, who is the U.N.’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict was also in attendance.

Jolie said: ‘There is a global epidemic of violence against women – both within conflict zones and within societies at peace – and it is still treated as a lesser crime and lower priority.

Fayose Drags APC To AU, UN Amid Threats To Make Ekiti Ungovernable

The governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose, has noted that he has reported the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) on the imminent reign of impunity by APC as from May 29, stressing that there is an alleged threat by the party to make Ekiti state ungovernable. “In alerting the international community on what to expect from May 29 as regards the threat by the APC to make Ekiti ungovernable, I have decided to put on notice the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) on the imminent reign of impunity by APC as from May 29.

“Since Ekiti people are certain to resist the planned plundering of their land, Nigerians and the world at large should know who to hold responsible in the event of anarchy in Ekiti State in particular and the entire Yorubaland,” he noted in a press statement.

Read full statement below:
It has become imperative once again to address the media on the constitutional and political crises being foisted on our dear State, Ekiti by irritants of unbridled ambitions, who are not only devoid of spirit of sportsmanship but implacable even when all odds are against them and roundly rejected by the good people of the state.

Read More: vanguardngr

AU Welcomes Buhari’s Win, Hails Nigeria’s Democracy

African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Wednesday congratulated Muhammadu Buhari for winning the presidential election, praising outgoing leader Goodluck Jonathan for “graciously accepting the results.”

Dlamini-Zuma, in a statement released at the Ethiopian headquarters of the 54-member AU bloc, said the result “demonstrates the maturity of democracy” in Nigeria. The AU Commission chief added that she hoped the people “will be united in facing the challenges of stability, security and development in their country.”

Credit: AFP

African Union Says Nigerian Election ‘Meets Standards’

Voting in Nigeria’s general election was broadly credible despite widespread logistical challenges, domestic and foreign observers said in preliminary findings released on Monday.

Nigeria’s Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), set up in the late 1990s to coincide with the end of military rule, said Saturday’s election “afforded Nigerians a credible opportunity to exercise their right to vote”.

“Late delivery of materials, a slow accreditation process and the inability of card readers to consistently validate voter’s fingerprints posed some challenges,” TMG said in a preliminary report based on findings from 1,500 polling stations monitored.

But it added: “These issues did not systematically disadvantage any candidate or party.”

Political campaigning has been closely run between President Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari in what is the first serious opposition challenge in the country’s history.

Separately, the African Union praised the conduct of the polls but urged political parties to go to court to resolve any disputes, given fears of violence.

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) said the vote was “conducted in a peaceful atmosphere within the framework that satisfactorily meets the continental and regional principles of democratic elections”.

Some 1,000 people were killed after Jonathan beat Buhari to the presidency last time round in 2011, when the opposition alleged widespread rigging.

The AU said the election was “generally peaceful during the accreditation as well as voting and counting processes” but said any challenges of the results should not be fought on the streets.

The Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) said “no significant disenfranchisement was observed on election day”.

The NDI, which observed 100 polling units, also noted late delivery of materials and various technical glitches but praised the patience and enthusiasm displayed by voters.

The West African bloc known as ECOWAS said on Sunday the elections met the “criteria of being free and transparent”, despite “pockets of incidents and logistical challenges”.

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission is expected to begin releasing state-by-state presidential results on Monday.

In past elections, some of the most serious incidents of rigging happened during the counting process, rather than on polling day.

Credit: yahoo

UN Urges More Regional Military Coordination Against Boko Haram

The United Nations Security Council urged West and Central African countries on Thursday to improve regional military coordination to more effectively combat Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram has become the main security threat facing Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer, and increasingly threatens neighboring countries.

Read More: Reuters

Jonathan, You Must Declare Your Assets- AU

The African Union has declared that President Goodluck Jonathan together with all other African leaders must as a matter of compulsion publicly declare their assets due to the high level and many cases of corruption and money laundering attached to them.

When the issue surfaced during his third Presidential media chat in 2014, Mr. Jonathan criticised those calling for the declaration, and said leaders should be allowed to determine whether or not the decision to make their assets public agreed with their personal principles. The president emphasised his disapproval by infamously declaring that he did not give “a damn” about publicly declaring his assets. “The issue of public asset declaration is a matter of personal principle. That is the way I see it, and I don’t give a damn about it, even if you criticise me from heaven,” the president said.

Worried by the high rate at which resource-rich African countries lose huge revenues through corruption, illegal transfers of profits and money laundering abroad, the African Union, AU, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan and other African leaders to openly declare their assets and subject their wealth to public scrutiny.

A report on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, compiled by an AU panel led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, said Africa loses an estimated $60billion (about N10.08trillion) annually through such transfers. The report was presented Sunday at a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The report has stirred massive concerns in Nigeria, which is said to account for over $40.9billion (about N6.87trillion), or 68 per cent of the total figure.

Read More: xwaizi.com

African Union Agrees to Send 7,500 Troops to Fight Boko Haram

African leaders have agreed to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, an African Union official said Saturday.

The move came after the council urged heads of state to endorse the deployment of troops from five West African countries to fight the extremist group, according to Samil Chergui, head of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.

African leaders, who are members of the 54-nation African Union, are meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa for a two-day summit that ends Saturday.

Read More: mashable.com

Dlamini-Zuma says she’s deeply horrified by Boko Haram

Nigeria must accept it cannot defeat Boko Haram fighters alone and work with regional armies in a new multinational force, the United Nations envoy for the Sahel region said on Wednesday.

More than 13 000 people have been killed and more than one million made homeless by Boko Haram violence since 2009.

Earlier this month Nigerian security officials ruled out the need for a United Nations or African Union-backed force to fight Boko Haram, saying the country and its partners could handle the threat.

“Nigeria cannot handle the problem alone, Boko Haram is not only confined to Nigeria,” Hiroute Guebre Sellassie told AFP in the Ethiopian capital, where the African Union is preparing for leaders of the 54-member bloc to meet for a summit on Friday.

“We see a flood of refugees to Niger, Cameroon and even Chad,” she added, warning of a possible training camp in northern Mali.

Credit: AFP

African Union Agrees ‘Substantive’ Transport Deal with China

China and the African Union agreed Tuesday on an ambitious plan to develop road, rail and air transport routes to link capitals across the continent.

African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma praised the proposal at “the most substantive project the AU has ever signed with a partner”, although the ambitious project that includes highways and high speed railways is at present just a committment to develop the infrastructure, and contains few details.

The memorandum of understanding was signed at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, ahead of a summit meeting of the leaders of the 54-nation pan-African bloc on Friday.

At present, the quickest route to travel across from one side of Africa to the other can involve flight connections routed via Europe, although major airport hubs are rapidly growing, including Addis Ababa and Nairobi in the east, Johannesburg in the south and Abuja in west Africa.

“This is the document of the century… the aviation agreement marks a new area for cooperation between the AU and China,” said Zhang Ming, Chinese vice-minister for foreign affairs, after the signing ceremony.

Read More: yahoo.com

African Union Welcomes New Burkina Faso Leader

The African Union on Monday welcomed the appointment of career diplomat Michel Kafando as Burkina Faso’s interim president following the ousting of its veteran leader.

AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma praised the people of the west African state “for their political maturity and sense of responsibility”, and called for “a smooth transition under the direction of civil authorities”.

The appointment of the former foreign minister and UN ambassador is set to end weeks of uncertainty in the impoverished country after mass protests toppled the 27-year regime of president Blaise Compaore and the military seized power.

The naming of the interim leader came ahead of a two-week deadline the AU had given the country’s army to return the state to civilian rule.

Dlamini-Zuma said she “welcomes the restoration of the constitution” and the “significant progress” made towards civilian rule, repeating the AU’s committment and support to the country.

The 54-member bloc also called on the international community to support efforts to “deepen democracy” in the country.

Kafando, who will have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Council, previously served as the country’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2011. He was also Burkina Faso’s foreign affairs minister between 1981 and 1982.

Credit: Yahoo News