African Union to debate Morocco’s bid to rejoin bloc

African Union leaders meet Monday for a summit that has exposed regional divisions as they mull whether to allow Morocco to rejoin the bloc, and vote for a new chairperson.

The two-day summit in Ethiopia comes after several shake-ups on the international stage: the election of US President Donald Trump and a new head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, who will address the opening of the assembly.

On Sunday in Addis Ababa, Guterres praised Ethiopia’s generosity in welcoming refugees from the region while battling its worst drought in 50 years.

It is “an example that I would say needs to be thought about in a world where unfortunately so many borders are being closed,” he said in a veiled dig at the US ban on travellers from seven Muslim countries, including Libya, Somalia and Sudan in Africa.

Uncertainty over Africa’s relationship with Trump’s America is one of several issues demanding the attention of AU leaders — from turmoil in Libya, radical Islam in Mali, Somalia and Nigeria, to stagnating peace efforts in South Sudan.

However Monday’s talks will be dominated by Morocco’s bid to return to the fold 33 years after it quit in protest against the AU’s decision to accept Western Sahara as a member.

– Facing resistance –

The membership of affluent Morocco could be a boon for the AU, which lost a key financier in late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi and is working hard to become financially independent.

Currently foreign donors account for some 70 percent of its budget, according to the Institute for Security Studies.

A Moroccan diplomat said Sunday the country had the “unconditional support” of 42 members of the bloc.

However in a sign of the resistance Morocco is facing, 12 countries including heavyweights Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Kenya and Angola, requested a legal opinion from the AU on whether the bloc could accept a country that some members consider is occupying another member’s territory.

These nations have long supported the campaign for self-determination by Western Sahara’s Polisario movement.

Morocco maintains that the former Spanish colony under its control is an integral part of the kingdom, while the Polisario Front, which campaigns for the territory’s independence, demands a referendum on self-determination.

The AU’s legal counsel, in a document seen by AFP, said the nations raised “fundamental concerns that have to be taken into account”. However the decison to weigh Morocco’s request ultimately rests with heads of state.

– Regional interests –

Also on Monday, leaders will vote for a new chairperson six months after failing to decide on a replacement for South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Fragmented regional interests — whether on Morocco’s bid or divisions over membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) — will shape the choice between five candidates from Kenya, Senegal, Chad, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea.

Kenya’s foreign minister Amina Mohamed, Chad’s former prime minister Moussa Faki Mahamat and Senegal’s veteran diplomat Abdoulaye Bathily are the newcomers and frontrunners in the race.

The winner will have to obtain a two-thirds majority.

The choice of a new leader is crucial for the future of a bloc still seen as largely irrelevant in the daily lives of most Africans, and which is undergoing deep introspection on how to reform.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was tasked with drawing up a report recommending an overhaul of the bloc, which he presented to heads of state on Sunday.

According to the Kenyan government, the “biting” report criticised “chronic failure to see through African Union decisions (which) had resulted in a crisis of implementation and a perception that the AU was not relevant to Africans”.

Kagame also slammed “over-dependence on (donor) funding.”

Efforts to obtain more financial independence are likely to gain even more significance as Africa faces uncertainty over its partnership with the United States after Trump’s vow to put “America first”.

The US is one of the main contributors to the fight against the Shabaab jihadist group in Somalia, and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has already been hit by funding cuts from the EU.

Over 1,000 migrants attempt to jump high double fence between Morocco and Spain

More than 1,000 migrants tried to jump a high double fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Sunday in a violent assault that saw one officer lose an eye, local authorities said.

A group of 1,100 people from sub-Saharan Africa trying to reach Europe stormed the border fence just after 4 am (0300 GMT) on New Year’s Day in an “extremely violent and organised” way, said the central government’s representative office in Ceuta.

None however managed to get through, bar two who were badly injured and taken to hospital in Ceuta, the office said in a statement. A similar assault on December 9 saw more than 400 migrants enter the tiny enclave.

Five Spanish policemen and 50 members of the Moroccan forces were injured, including one who lost an eye, it said.

A Moroccan interior ministry statement said that of those members of the security forces who were hurt, 10 were in a serious condition.

Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.

They are one of the entry points for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe, who get there by either climbing over the border fence, swimming along the coast or hiding in vehicles.

On Monday, a French national was arrested for trying to board a ferry out of Ceuta with a camper van where 12 Algerians were found hiding, “car sick and sweating,” police said.

According to local authorities, of the 1,100 migrants who stormed the border Sunday, just over 100 managed to climb up the external fence and stayed on top for hours.

Footage shot by the local Faro TV shows one man perched at the top of the six-metre (20-foot) high fence, sitting uncomfortably near rolls of barbed wire, his head hanging down onto his chest.

Eventually as darkness turns to light, he slowly climbs down to a space between both fences and lies down as a Spanish policeman fetches him a bottle of water before taking him to an entry back into Morocco.

Separately, coastguards said they had rescued 52 people who were packed onto a small boat at sea south of Malaga on Spain’s southern coast.

Federal Government partners Morocco on renewable energy

Nigeria is pursuing international partnership with Morocco to create collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies to enhance security and sustainable development.

The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who disclosed this, while giving account of one-year stewardship, said investments in the power sector is to encourage the implementation of renewable energy solution in the country.

She added that Nigeria has begun to explore and invest in a variety of alternative energy components, not only to address its carbon emissions, but to embrace cleaner alternatives to cooking such as liquefied petroleum gas and ethanol cook stoves.

According to the minister, Nigeria is promoting investment in solar power projects in several rural villages to improve education, water supply, health, agriculture, commerce, security and all these would offer opportunities to women.

On national budget, she hinted, the 2016 budget was not reflective of the level of work needed to execute by the Environment ministry. “Our capital budget is N4.9 billion of which N1.457 billion was released as at September amounting to 29.5 percent and 96 percent utilized”. She added

The minister maintained that environmental degradation has been identified as the root cause of insecurity and conflicts like Boko Haram insurgency, Niger Delta and militancy in the south and more recently conflict between herdsmen and farmers, where mostly women are caught at the centre.

Commenting on Ogoniland Clean up Project, she said out of $1 billion set aside, $200million would be released and for the period of five years, adding, this would commence when a revised gazette is put in place.

“The government wants to put up structures that would enhance the take-off of the project, and over 1,000 women would be empowered to improve their livelihoods”, she added.

Nigeria, Morocco To Build Gas Pipeline Link

Nigeria and Morocco on Saturday resolved to jointly promote a gas pipeline that will connect the two countries and some other African countries.

This was one of the agreement reached during the three-day visit of Moroccan King President Mohammed VI.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Geoffrey Onyema, disclosed this to reporters on Saturday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Onyema said the gas pipeline project would also accelerate energy and electrification projects across the affected member countries.

He said, “It is a great honour and privilege to read for you a communique which outlines the strategic visions that you both have for our two countries.

“On the occasion of the visit of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to Nigeria, and following the discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari in Marrackeck, on the sidelines of the Conference of the Parties (COP-22), and also in Abuja , the Kingdom of Morocco and the Federal Republic of Nigeria decided 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.”

The minister said the pipeline project would be designed with the participation of all stakeholders.

This, he explained, is meant to create a competitive regional electricity market with the potential to be connected to the European energy markets.

He said  Nigeria and Kingdom of Morocco also agreed to develop integrated industrial clusters in the sub-region in sectors such as manufacturing, Agro-business and fertilizers to attract foreign capital and improve export competitiveness.

Credit: punchng

Moroccan King leads 300-member delegation to Nigeria, meets Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja met briefly with King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who arrived Abuja on Thursday, for a 3-day official visit to Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the king, on arrival at the Presidential Villa at about 1.20p.m. inspected a guard of honour mounted by men of the Guards Brigade.

The Guards Brigade also honoured the visiting King with 21-gun salute.

NAN reports that shortly after the inspection of the guard of honour,  Mr. Buhari and Mohammed  met behind closed doors, before leaving the Presidential Villa for National Mosque to perform the 2-raka’at  Juma’at Prayer.

NAN further reports that King Mohammed, who is leading a 300-man delegation, is visiting Nigeria for the first time since he ascended the throne in July 23, 1999.

The meeting between President Buhari and King Mohammed, which would continue  after the Juma’at prayer, would focus on bilateral trade and economic relations.

Laoye Jaiyeola, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), said that public and private sectors of both countries would collaborate to leverage on opportunities for sustainable economic growth.

Mr. Jaiyeola spoke at the Nigeria-Morocco Business Meeting , with the theme: “Business Climate and Investment Opportunities.”

According to him, improved business relations between Nigeria and Morocco will create mutual benefits, connect the continent’s markets and enhance competitiveness.

Analysts say with the visit the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco which erupted over a purported phone conversation between former President Goodluck Jonathan and King Mohammed VI, may have been put to rest.

Buhari Travels To Morocco For Climate Change Conference

President Muhammadu Buhari will attend the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP-22, in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 14-16, 2016.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari would participate in the official opening plenary on November 15 where he would deliver a national statement during the High Level Segment of COP 22.

The statement said the presidential address would highlight, among other key issues, Nigeria’s unwavering commitment to implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and policy actions aimed at tackling climate change through environmental sustainable efforts.

It also said Buhari would use the occasion of his speech to rally international support for the clean-up of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta and the resuscitation of the Lake Chad Basin.

“While in Marrakech, the President is scheduled to attend the Africa Day Commemoration at COP 22 with the theme, ‘Moving from Commitments to Action with Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and African Renewable Energy Initiative’”, the statement added.

Adesina said Buhari would also attend the Summit of African Heads of State on the sidelines of the Climate Change conference.

COP 22, which will be attended by representatives from 197 countries including world leaders, environment ministers, government officials as well as a wide range of representatives from civil society and the private sector, is the first meeting of State Parties since the entry into force of the landmark Paris Agreement on November 4, 2016.

The legally binding international Agreement on climate change, among others, addresses issues of global warming, including its impact on food security and agriculture.

Buhari signed the Paris Agreement on September 22, 2016 at the margins of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Credit: thisdaylive

Bauchi Probe C’ttee Discovers Aircraft Hidden In Morocco

A committee set up by the Bauchi State Government, headed by Air Commodore Ahmed Tijjani-Baba (rtd), has discovered an aircraft belonging to the state, hidden in Morocco. Governor Mohammed Abubakar made this known, Saturday night in Bauchi, in a broadcast marking his 100 days in office.

He disclosed that the recovered aircraft would be received by the state government in few days at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi.

According to him, “The committee will now beam its satellite on the Ministry for Local Government Affairs and the State Basic Education Board, to see how billions of naira allocated to them was spent.

“Such examples are the N2billion micro loans and others that were allocated to them but carelessly spent, leaving our pupils to study under the trees.”

Abubakar assured that the state government would soon embark on the construction and reconstruction of some rural feeder roads to ease transportation problems.

Read More: nigerianpilot

Burkina Ex-president Compaore in Exile in Morocco, Says Ivory Coast Govt

Burkina Faso’s longtime president Blaise Compaore, toppled by a popular uprising last month, has left his temporary refuge of Ivory Coast and headed into exile in Morocco, an Ivorian government spokesman said on Thursday.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Burkina Faso when Compaore, who originally seized power in a 1987 coup, tried to change the constitution through parliament to extend his 27-year grip on the West African state.

He fled to neighbouring Ivory Coast, where he was welcomed by President Alassane Ouattara, a close ally, and lodged in a state villa in the capital Yamoussoukro.

“Yes, he has decided to change locations. He has left for Morocco. He will always be welcome in Ivory Coast. Our doors are always open,” Ivorian government spokesman Bruno Kone told Reuters, without giving further details.

Burkina Faso’s military briefly took power after Compaore stepped down. A civilian interim president, Michel Kafando, was appointed this week to guide the country on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert to an election due next year.

Credit: Reuters

Guinea Player Leaves Team to Calm Team Players’ Ebola Fears

Guinea forward Lass Bangoura says he left his national team to calm the fears of his Spanish club teammates who were worried about the Ebola outbreak.

Lass was called to play for Guinea in its 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ghana on Friday, which was moved from Guinea to Morocco because of concerns about Ebola.

But Lass said on Thursday, “When they told me my teammates were worried, I made the decision to come back, speak with them, and tell them that they shouldn’t be afraid.

“They called me twice, but I couldn’t answer because I was training, and later I spoke with my agent. I then spoke with my coach and I told him that I had a problem with my club because my teammates were afraid, and that if he could let me go to do things because I didn’t want trouble with my club, which is who pays me.”

Rayo Vallecano spokesman Fernando Lopez told The Associated Press that the club did not ask Lass to return, but instead it suggested he not travel to Guinea and instead go directly to Morocco. Lopez said Lass agreed to that travel plan.