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Archive for Africa

Newsline: Tanzania Opposition Leader Seeks Refuge With German Ambassador

Tanzania’s main opposition leader Tundu Lissu sought refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in the city of Dar es Salaam, claiming he feared for his life after a contentious election. Lissu and other opposition leaders were briefly detained by the police last week after calling for nationwide street protests against the East African country’s Oct. 28 election, which they said was rigged in favor of the ruling party. The electoral body said the poll was free and credible. “I’m staying at the German ambassador’s residence since Monday because of threats on my life,” Lissu told Bloomberg on Saturday by telephone. Unidentified people had threatened to deal with him “once and for all,” he said. “I read that as: They are out to kill me.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-07/tanzania-opposition-leader-seeks-refuge-with-german-ambassador) Calls to the Dar es Salaam police chief, Lazaro Mambosasa, weren’t answered. Police said recently that the security situation was calm, with no incidents of election-related violence.

Newsline: Ethiopia summons U.S. ambassador over Trump comments in dam dispute

Ethiopia on Saturday summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from President Donald Trump over their dispute about the filling and operation of a massive hydropower dam. Trump called on Friday for an agreement between the countries, but added it was a dangerous situation and that Cairo could end up “blowing up that dam”. Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned U.S. Ambassador to Addis Ababa Mike Raynor to seek clarifications on the comments. “The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting U.S. president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in international law governing interstate relations,” Gedu’s ministry said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-ethiopia/ethiopia-summons-us-ambassador-over-trump-comments-in-dam-dispute-idUSKBN2790C0) Trump made the comments during a call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok following Sudan and Israel’s announcement to normalise ties. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which remains unresolved although the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July. Trump said on Friday he had brokered an agreement to resolve the issue but that Ethiopia had broken the pact, forcing him to cut funds, adding: “They will never see that money unless they adhere to the agreement … You can’t blame Egypt for being a little upset.” He said he had also urged Egypt to resolve the dispute.

Newsline: Indian embassy in Madagascar becomes first to go fully solar

The Indian embassy in Madagascar went solar to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, becoming the first Indian embassy to embrace renewable energy. An 8 KW solar power plant was inaugurated at the embassy premises in the capital Antananarivo in the presence of the Malagasy Prime Minister Christian Ntsay and environment minister Rahanirina B. Vahinala. (https://news.mongabay.com/2020/10/indian-embassy-in-madagascar-becomes-first-to-go-fully-solar/) “Our violence towards nature has led to biodiversity loss, environmental pollution, and climate change,” Abhay Kumar, India’s ambassador to Madagascar, said on the occasion, drawing a link between Gandhi’s message of non -violence and the ongoing biodiversity loss and climate change crisis facing the world.

Newsline: Nigerians in Switzerland complain over alleged corruption at embassy

Nigerian Youth Movement of Switzerland has written a petition letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand a probe into alleged corrupt practices by officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Bern. The group in a petition signed by its youth leader, Irydaer Omobude, titled: ‘The Nigerian Embassy in Bern is stinking in corruption’ urged the federal government to recall the Ambassador, Baba Madugu and Mrs. Kemi Amuda back to Nigeria with immediate effect. Petition reads: “The embassy in Bern under Ambassador Baba Madugu uses the swiss police to intimidate, threaten, coarse, and violently remove Nigerians on appointment at the embassy whenever they request for passport or other services which they paid for” “The Nigerian embassy in Bern receives a monthly salary for a security officer that is never employed who then receives this monthly salary” “Many contracts and purchases are highly inflated with the active participation of third parties.” (https://guardian.ng/news/nigerians-in-switzerland-petition-efcc-sgf-ministry-over-alleged-corruption-in-embassy/) The group noted that it had notified the Nigerian embassy in Bern of these acts in a letter dated 24 January 2020 but regretted that till date, the embassy has not replied to the letter. Instead, decided to introduce a closed-door policy against the community, calling the Swiss police at random to harass Nigerians from coming to the embassy.

Newsline: Iran reportedly weighing plot to kill US ambassador to South Africa

The Iranian government is weighing a plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa, a report said on Sunday. Authorities have been aware of a general threat against ambassador Lana Marks since the spring, but intelligence reports about the plot have become more specific in recent weeks, Politico reported, citing two unnamed government officials. The intelligence community isn’t sure why Iran would target Marks, who does not appear to have any known links to the country, according to the report. (https://nypost.com/2020/09/13/iran-weighing-plot-to-kill-u-s-ambassador-to-south-africa-report/) But the plot seems to be an effort by Iran to retaliate against the Trump administration for the killing of its top general Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in January. President Trump announced fresh sanctions on Iran and warned it against other retaliatory moves. But US officials believe attacking Marks is one of several options Iran’s regime is considering as payback. A personal friend of the late Princess Diana, Marks, 66, has known Trump for more than two decades. She was sworn in as US ambassador last October. The report said that she has been made aware of the possible threat to her life.

Newsline: Congo police fire tear gas to disperse protest over Rwandan diplomat

Police in Congo’s capital Kinshasa fired tear gas on Friday to disperse around 100 protesters calling for the expulsion of the Rwandan ambassador they accuse of denying a massacre during the 1998-2003 Congo war. Two people were seriously injured, one of whom was in critical condition, after inhaling tear gas and being beaten by police, said Carbone Beni from the campaign group Filimbi, which organised the protest. Kinshasa’s police chief Sylvano Kasongo confirmed some protesters were hurt, but said injuries were not serious. The city’s governor had not authorised the demonstration, he said. The protest was broken up before the group reached the Rwandan embassy. In August, Ambassador Vincent Karega responded to a Twitter post that accused Rwandan troops of killing more than a thousand people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 1998. “Blatant incoherence between image and history… accusation without evidence is called slander,” Karega tweeted and later deleted. Karega told Reuters on Friday his comments had been misinterpreted and he did not deny that a massacre had taken place. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-protest-rwanda/congo-police-fire-tear-gas-to-disperse-protest-over-rwandan-diplomat-idUSKBN25V2M9) He said he was thankful for the level of organisation shown during Friday’s protest.

Newsline: The diplomats without an embassy

Officially, the dream of an independent Biafra ended in 1970, when the Nigerian Civil War came to an end after the breakaway state in southeastern Nigeria was defeated by the federal government. However, according to the United States government, Biafra still exists, at least in certain filings at the department of justice. In the alphabetically ordered filings maintained under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (Fara), Biafra sits right in between Bermuda and Bolivia. But although Bermuda is recognised as a British Overseas Territory and Bolivia maintains an official embassy, Biafra is not officially recognised as an independent country in the United States, or anywhere. But all states — whether they’re widely recognised or not — as well as foreign political parties and other entities, must publicly file their contracts with US firms when those firms are hired to engage in work related to public policy or public opinion. (https://mg.co.za/africa/2020-08-22-the-diplomats-without-an-embassy/) The Biafra filing contains a contract between a separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), and the US firm Mercury Public Affairs, although Ipob is not the only non-state, or quasi-state actor in the filings. Joining Ipob are the Coordination of Movements of the Azawad (CMA), an alliance of Tuareg rebels in Mali; and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, in Western Sahara. Both have hired Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit diplomatic advisory group. The challenges they face are serious and long-standing issues, ranging from independence to the implementation of peace accords. Under the Fara filings for Mali, the CMA is listed alongside — although separately — from the Malian government. The group, a coalition of rebels from the 2012 Tuareg uprising, differs from the various Biafran movements in that it actually holds governing and military power, rather than being an independence movement.

Newsline: U.S. Ambassadors and African Diplomacy

In most African countries, the U.S ambassador plays a crucial role in managing the U.S. bilateral relationship with the host country. Hence, the importance of the arrival in Tanzania of Dr. Donald J. Wright, MD. He presented his ambassadorial credentials to President John P. Magufuli on August 2. According to the American Foreign Service Association’s current U.S. ambassadors tracker, at present, the position of U.S. ambassador is vacant in Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Sudan, and Zambia. Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia, Liberia, Mauritania, and Sierra Leone are also vacant, although the White House has nominated candidates. U.S. ambassadors to sub-Saharan Africa are almost always career members of the U.S. Foreign Service. (The White House nominees for the five vacant ambassadorships are all career.) The exceptions have usually been South Africa, Mauritius, and Tanzania. At present, it is South Africa and Kenya that are political appointees, while Mauritius is career. Ambassador Wright would seem to fit neither category: he has held senior positions in the Trump administration but has had a long career in public health. In any event, Inauguration Day has not usually meant the wholesale turnover of U.S. ambassadors in sub-Saharan Africa, unlike, say, in western Europe. The pattern looks to be the same on Inauguration Day 2021, no matter who wins. (https://www.cfr.org/blog/us-ambassadors-and-african-diplomacy) As with other aspects of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa, the Trump administration’s ambassadorial appointments have followed the pattern of previous administrations. The ratio of political to career ambassadorial appointments is much the same, unlike in other parts of the world where the Trump administration has appointed more political ambassadors than his predecessors. Worldwide, about 45 percent of President Trump’s ambassadorial appointees have been political. Under previous administrations, the percentage has varied between 30 and 35 percent.

Newsline: Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Calls US Ambassador a ‘Thug’

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party spokesman Patrick Chinamasa lashed out at the U.S. government and U.S. Ambassador Brian Nichols. Chinamasa claimed the U.S., through Nichols, was backing Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, via anti-government protests scheduled for Friday. “If he continues to engage in acts undermining the republic, mobilizing and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgency, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” said Chinamasa. “Diplomats should not behave like thugs and Brian Nichols is a thug … We remind Nichols that he is not a super diplomat in this country. … We have nothing to learn from the United States.” (https://www.voanews.com/africa/zimbabwes-ruling-party-calls-us-ambassador-thug-tensions-rise) Tensions with Zimbabwe surfaced after the U.S. Embassy last week spoke out against police arresting a prominent journalist and an opposition leader. The U. S. Embassy in Harare had no immediate reaction to the remarks or the threat to expel Ambassador Nichols.

Newsline: Turkey to open embassy in Togo

Turkey will open an embassy in the West African country of Togo, the Turkish foreign minister announced. After meeting with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe in the capital Lome, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will further develop its bilateral relations with Togo. He said during the meeting, the sides talked about how to improve relations and when the new embassy will be opened. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/turkey-to-open-embassy-in-togo-foreign-minister/1916792) Since 2003, Turkey and dozens of African countries have mutually opened embassies. Cavusoglu added that the sides also talked about organizing flights to Togo by Turkish Airlines (THY) as well as cooperation on security and education. Cavusoglu arrived in Togo Monday as the first stop on a three-nation West African tour, to be followed by Niger and Equatorial Guinea.