(afrika-times.com) In its recently-released annual report, Freedom in the World 2021, the watchdog said Somaliland scored 43 on the 100-point Freedom House Index, while Ethiopia scored 19, Djibouti scored 26, Eritrea scored 2 and Somalia also scored 7 on the 100-point Freedom House index.
US-based independent watchdog Freedom House has asserted it’s latest report that the Somaliland enjoys more freedom than other Horn of Africa’s countries like Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia.
The US was rated 86 on the index, closely followed by India at 75.Germany and France scored higher than the US as Freedom House expressed concern over the state of affairs in America.Interestingly, the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir enjoys more freedom than Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) contrary to allegations leveled by Imran Khan-led government in Pakistan.
Jammu & Kashmir scored 49 on the 100-point Freedom House Index, while Pakistan scored 39 and PoK a paltry 28. The report also labeled PoK as “not free” in terms of freedom enjoyed by its residents and the functioning of local institutes.While the report termed Pakistan as “partly free”, it labeled India a “free” country alongside the US, several European nations, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and several Latin American countries.“Elections in Somaliland have been relatively free and fair, but years-long delays have meant that elected officials serve well beyond their original mandates.
Journalists face pressure from authorities, and police have employed excessive force and engaged in arbitrary detention. Minor clans are subject to political and economic marginalization, and violence against women remains a serious problem,” the report said, adding that “Somaliland’s political rights rating improved from 5 to 4 due to the holding of a long-delayed presidential election.”On the electoral process, the Freedom House had said in its report in 2018 “The president is directly elected for a maximum of two five-year terms and appoints the cabinet.
The electoral mandate of incumbent president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Sillanyo” of the Peace, Unity, and Development Party (Kulmiye) expired in 2015, but the presidential election due that year was not held until November 2017.
Muse Bihi Abdi, the Kulmiye candidate, won the contest with 55 percent of the vote, followed by Abdurahman Mohamed Abdullahi of the opposition Wadani party with 40 percent and Faisal Ali Warabe of the For Justice and Development (UCID) party with 4 percent.International monitors identified some irregularities in the process—including unstamped ballot papers and underage voting—and there was an outbreak of violence while results were being finalized, with police firing on pro-Wadani protesters amid suspicions of fraud. However, the observers concluded that such problems did not significantly affect the final result, which Wadani ultimately accepted in the public interest.Score Change: The score improved from 0 to 3 because Somaliland held a competitive presidential election, ending a two-year period in which the chief executive lacked an electoral mandate.”Be the first to know – Follow us on Twitter @SaxafiThe Freedom House report with a focus on “democracy in retreat” said in 2018, freedom in the world recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Domestic attacks on key institutions—the judiciary, the media, and electoral mechanisms—are undermining the foundations of democracy, the report said.It said at the same time, a global assault on the norms of democracy, led by an increasingly assertive China, challenges their spread around the world. Only by strengthening democracy at home and standing together in its defense around the world can democracies protect their values and preserve their ability to expand freedom globally, the report said.
It also said that the internet and other digital technologies have become ubiquitous as a means of accessing information, communicating, and participating in public debates. Consequently, technology and social media companies play an increasingly important role in sustaining—or weakening—democracy.
Somaliland is resisting China’s rapid expansion in Africa through the Belt-and-Road initiative.
After months of pressure, the Somaliland government cut out Beijing and invited Taiwan to open an embassy in the capital, Hargeisa. By Robert C. O’Brien
As America confronts an assertive China across the Indo-Pacific region, it is important to understand the centrality of Africa to this effort. Recognizing a stable and democratic Somaliland in the Horn of Africa as an independent country is a key step in stemming the Chinese Communist Party’s rising tide on the continent, which brackets the western border of the region. Almost unnoticed during the pandemic, Somaliland is resisting China’s rapid expansion in Africa through the Belt-and-Road initiative.
After months of Chinese pressure, the Somaliland government cut out Beijing and invited Taiwan to open an embassy in the capital, Hargeisa. Taiwan now has a scholarship program for Somaliland students to study in Taipei and Taiwanese aid is flowing into the country to assist with energy, agriculture, and human-capital projects. It is often difficult for developing nations, including those in Africa, to resist the economic allure of Chinese loans and investment.
China’s government is pouring money into Africa in a bid to secure energy and raw materials long into the future. Governments often set aside concerns over China’s predatory lending, corruption, human-rights abuses and its high-handed “wolf warrior diplomacy” to provide for their desperate populations.
When a developing nation stands up to China and rejects its tainted aid, the United States should make every effort to help it succeed, particularly in strategically vital geography. Somaliland is one such country and deserves U.S. assistance. Unlike the virtually failed state of Somalia to its south, Somaliland is thriving. It has been peaceful for the thirty years since it declared independence, has a functioning democratic system, manages its own police force, and even issues its own currency and passports.An American-backed independent Somaliland would show other nations that there is an alternative to China’s Belt-and-Road initiative in East Africa. This step could be key as China has marked the area for great power competition by establishing its first overseas military base in neighboring Djibouti.
Somaliland’s location, just south of Djibouti, on a major artery of maritime trade—the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait—is thus of geopolitical significance to the United States and its allies. Somaliland would also be an important partner in the fight against Islamist terrorists in the region.The legal and diplomatic grounds for recognizing Somaliland are strong. In many ways, what we today recognize as modern Somalia is an artificial construct, even by the standards of post-colonial Africa.
During the late-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, Somaliland was controlled by the British, eventually becoming a formal British colony. After its independence from the UK in 1960, thirty-five nations recognized the new Republic of Somaliland.
The country was one of the first fifteen nations on the continent to gain their freedom during that famous “Year of Africa.” As a matter of international law, Somaliland had been and, upon independence, was entirely separate from the Italian colony Somalia Italiana, later Somalia. The two neighboring former colonies were joined together into one nation only after both received their respective independence from different colonial powers. The election that ratified the union creating Somalia was, however, fraught with irregularities.
For example, it was discovered shortly after voting that the documents each newly independent state had voted on were different, thus, making the union technically void. The government in Mogadishu attempted to remedy this problem by announcing a second referendum on an act of union.
But due to significant discrimination against Somaliland, its citizens boycotted the vote. In 1961, a Somali court ruled that the legal mechanisms used to join the two nations were flawed.Over the years, the regime in Mogadishu massively abused human rights in Somaliland.
Somalia’s decades of discrimination, repression, and genocide against Somaliland have been ongoing since the colony’s independence.
Somaliland fought a war against Somalia for its freedom. This decades-long conflict was one of the most brutal wars in post-colonial Africa and included Mogadishu’s genocide against the north’s major clan.
At the conclusion of the conflict, after securing its territory, Somaliland declared its independence anew. If the United States leads on diplomatic recognition, then other nations will certainly follow.
The United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and other states already have offices in Hargeisa, though only Taiwan maintains an embassy.
Even continental power South Africa has flirted with recognition. The time is now for the United States to take the first step—or more accurately, thanks to Taipei, the second step—to bring Somaliland fully into the community of nations. Robert C. O’Brien was the twenty-eighth U.S. National Security Advisor, serving from 2019-2021. He is the Chairman of the Global Taiwan Institute’s U.S.-Taiwan Task Force. Image: Reuters
(afrika-times.com) It started as a largely peaceful religious movement in northern Nigeria. But the violent rhetoric was never inconspicuous. Yet, the government didn’t pay much attention to Boko Haram. Until 2009, when the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was murdered while in police custody, setting off an inexorable chain of violent events that has threatened the very existence of the Nigerian state. Twelve years later, thousands have died and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced or remain in captivity. Yet, the insurgency is far from over. Here is a timeline of events of Nigeria’s never-ending conflict:
2002: Mohammed Yusuf founds Boko Haram, a group with the aim to ‘purify’ Islam in Northern Nigeria. (Afrika-Times.com)
July 2009: Yusuf is killed in a Boko Haram uprising while in police custody.
7 September 2010: Boko Haram members launch an attack on a federal prison in Bauchi, freeing up to 721 prisoners, including up to 150 affiliated with the group.
16 June 2011: A suicide bomber drives a car bomb into the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja and kills up to six people.
26 August 2011: A car bomb explodes at a United Nations building in Abuja, killing at least 21 and wounding 60.
25 December 2011: A series of bomb attacks on Christmas Day kills about 40 people and injures many others.
31 December 2011: President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in parts of the North-East and orders the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger shut.
8 January 2012: President Jonathan says Boko Haram members have infiltrated his government, including the military and police.
20 January 2012: At least 178 people are killed after Boko Haram executed a series of bomb blasts and shooting sprees mostly targeting police stations in Kano.
11 October 2012: Human Rights Watch accuses Nigerian security forces of gross human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram.
14 May 2013: President Jonathan extends the state of emergency to cover Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
11 August 2013: Boko Haram kills 44 worshipers at a mosque in Konduga, Borno.
November 2013: The United States designates Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation.
26 February 2014: Boko Haram murders at least 59 boys at the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe state.
14-15 April 2014: About 276 female students are kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State.
May 2014: The United Nations’ Security Council adds Boko Haram to its financial sanctions and arms embargo list.
29 October 2014: Boko Haram seizes the Adamawa town of Mubi, forcing thousands to flee.
January 2015: Boko Haram seizes a Nigerian military base in Baga, a key town in Borno state.
February 2015: Nigeria postpones presidential elections for six weeks as a coalition of military forces including those from Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria begin a campaign against Boko Haram.
March 2015: The Nigerian army recovers Bama from Boko Haram, halting the group’s incursion.
(Afrika-times.com) Just weeks ahead of the planned pullout of American troops, the American flag at the U.S. embassy in Kabul had been taken down and most embassy staff had been relocated to the city’s airport. The chaotic reports emerging from Kabul cap more than two decades of American efforts in the country to root out terrorism and transform the nation into a functioning democratic state.
Thousands of American lives and nearly $830 billion in official spending, those efforts have resulted in failure.
How Afghanistan, a country that has been torn by conflict for decades, arrived at this place is a long and arduous journey.
Explained with maps and graphics Here is a timeline of Afghanistan’s more late 20th century, what led to the U.S. invasion in the first place, through the most recent action there:
April 1979: In the Saur Revolution, or April Coup, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan assassinates Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan.
December 1979: Soviets invaded Afghanistan in order to prop up the government, which faced internal rebellion.
Early 1989: As the Soviet Union disintegrated, the army withdrew, leaving the Afghan forces to take the lead in fighting an American-funded insurgency. US intelligence estimates over 15,000 Soviet troops died in the decade-long war. The Soviets kept advisers with the Afghans and continued financing the military.
1992: The American CIA, which backed Afghan rebel groups, withdrew its aid. The Russians also cut its funding. The pro-Russian government was overthrown, and Afghanistan was plunged into a bloody civil war, setting the stage for the Taliban to assume power four years later.
1994: The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerges from Islamist fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for over a decade. That conflict ended in 1989.
1996: After a two-year civil war, most of Afghanistan comes under the control of the Taliban, who institute fundamentalist policies and widespread repression of human rights.
Aug 15 (Reuters) – Taliban insurgents began entering Kabul on Sunday after taking control of all of Afghanistan’s major cities apart from the capital.
Following are some of the major milestones in the Islamist militant movement’s advance in recent months. Other deadly attacks occurred, some blamed on the Taliban and some on other jihadist groups including an offshoot of Islamic State.
Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government on a political understanding that could lead to a peace deal, backed by the United States and its allies, have failed to make significant progress.
– April 14 – President Joe Biden announces U.S. troops will withdraw from Afghanistan starting on May 1 and ending on Sept. 11, bringing America’s longest war to a close. It was an extension of the previous withdrawal deadline of May 1 agreed between the United States and the Taliban.Report ad
– May 4 – Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province. They also attack in at least six other provinces.
– May 11 – The Taliban capture Nerkh district just outside the capital Kabul as violence intensifies across the country.
– June 7 – Senior government officials say more than 150 Afghan soldiers are killed in 24 hours as fighting worsens. They add that fighting is raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces.
– June 22 – Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south. The UN envoy for Afghanistan says they have taken more than 50 of 370 districts.Report ad
– July 2 – American troops quietly pull out of their main military base in Afghanistan – Bagram Air Base, an hour’s drive from Kabul. It effectively ends U.S. involvement in the war.
– July 5 – The Taliban say they could present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as August.
– July 21 – Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country’s districts, according to the senior U.S. general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance.
– July 25 – The United States vows to continue to support Afghan troops “in the coming weeks” with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks
– July 26 – The United Nations says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009.
– Aug. 6 – Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years. Many more are to follow in the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north.
– Aug. 13 – Four more provincial capitals fall in a day, including Kandahar, the country’s second city and spiritual home of the Taliban. In the west, another key city, Herat, is overrun and veteran commander Mohammad Ismail Khan, one of the leading fighters against the Taliban, is captured.
– Aug. 14 – The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 70 km (40 miles) south of Kabul. The United States sends more troops to help evacuate its civilians from Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is consulting with local and international partners
– Aug. 15 – The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul.
– Aug. 15 – Taliban insurgents enter Kabul, an interior ministry official says, as the United States evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
In 2015, ISIS was believed to be holding 3,500 people as slaves, according to a United Nations report. Most of the enslaved were women and children from the Yazidi community, but some were from other ethnic and religious minority communities.
ISIS’s revenue comes from oil production and smuggling, taxes, ransoms from kidnappings, selling stolen artifacts, extortion and controlling crops.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was the leader of ISIS from April 2010 until his death in October 2019. After his death, ISIS announced its new leader would be Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
2006 – Under Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq tries to spark a sectarian war against the majority Shia community.
June 7, 2006 – Zarqawi is killed in a US strike. Abu Ayyub al-Masri takes his place as leader of AQI.
October 2006 – Masri announces the creation of Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and establishes Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its leader.
April 2010 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes leader of ISI after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Masri are killed in a joint US-Iraqi operation.
April 2013 – ISI declares its absorption of an al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. Baghdadi says that his group will now be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
January 2014 – ISIS takes control of Falluja.
February 3, 2014 – Al Qaeda renounces ties to ISIS after months of infighting between al-Nusra Front and ISIS.
August 6, 2014 – ISIS fighters attack the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, home of a religious minority group called the Yazidis. More than 30,000 Yazidi families are stranded in the Sinjar Mountains. A Yazidi lawmaker says that 500 men have been killed, 70 children have died of thirst and women are being sold into slavery.
June 14, 2015 – A British teen, Talha Asmal, is reportedly one of four ISIS suicide bombers who attack the headquarters of a Shia militia group in Iraq, killing at least 11. Before the bombing, ISIS posted photos of Asmal, 17, posing next to their black flag on social media. According to the BBC, Asmal left England in March to join the Islamic fundamentalists.
June 19, 2015 – The US State Department issues its annual terrorism report, declaring that ISIS is becoming a greater threat than al Qaeda. The frequency and savagery of ISIS attacks are alarming, according to the report.
June 24, 2015 – The Syrian government reports that ISIS militants have destroyed two Muslim holy sites in Palmyra. The group attacked a 500-year-old shrine and a tomb where a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin was reportedly buried.
June 28, 2016 – At least 44 people die and more than 230 are injured when three attackers arrive at Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport in a taxi, then open fire before blowing themselves up. US officials believe the man who directed the three attackers is Akhmed Chatayev, a terrorist from Russia’s North Caucasus region and a well-known ISIS lieutenant.
September 16, 2016 – Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook says a US air strike targeted and killed Wael Adel Salman, akaAbu Muhammad al-Furqan, ISIS’s chief spokesman. Salman was the ISIS minister of information, responsible for overseeing the production of “terrorist propaganda videos showing torture and executions,” Cook says.
July 25, 2018 –At least 166 people are killed in a suicide bombing and other attacks in the southern Syrian province of Suwayda, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria says. ISIS claims responsibility.
August 23, 2018 – ISIS releases what it says is an audio message from Baghdadi. In the 55-minute recording, a man admits that ISIS groups are losing and urges his followers to carry on with the fight.
December 19, 2018 –US President Donald Trump sets the stage for a rapid withdrawal of American troops from Syria with a tweet falsely claiming that ISIS has been defeated. Although coalition forces have been successful taking back territory that was once part of the ISIS caliphate, militants continue to control a small swath of land near the Euphrates River. Estimates vary as to how many ISIS fighters are left in Syria. A Defense Department inspector general report puts the number of ISIS members in Iraq and Syria as high as 30,000.
January 16, 2019 – A deadly explosion kills four Americans and at least 10 other people in the Syrian city of Manbij. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.
August 6, 2019 – The Pentagon issues a report saying that ISIS is “re-surging” in Syria, less than five months after Trump declared the terror group’s caliphate there had been 100% defeated. An accompanying message to the report, written by Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, notes that, “The reduction of US forces has decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their forces need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence.”
With 155 of 156 constituencies reporting, official results showed Hichilema had garnered 2,810,757 votes against President Edgar Lungu’s tally of 1,814,201.
“I therefore declare the said Hakainde Hichilema to be president-elect of the Republic of Zambia,” electoral commission chairman Justice Esau Chulu said in a televised address.
The 59-year-old veteran opposition politician beat his long-time rival Lungu following a bruising race held against the backdrop of deteriorating standards of living.
This is the sixth time Hichilema, who is 59, has run for the top job and the third time he has challenged 64-year-old incumbent Lungu.
In 2016, Hichilema narrowly lost to Lungu by around 100,000 votes.
Lungu, who has been in office for six years, faced the electorate amid growing resentment about rising living costs and crackdowns on dissent in the southern African country.
Hichilema enjoyed the backing of 10 opposition parties at Thursday’s vote under the banner of his and the largest opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
Lungu began crying foul before a winner was declared, claiming the election was neither free nor fair due to incidents of violence reported in what are traditionally Hichilema’s stronghold.
In a statement issued through the president’s office, he alleged that his party’s polling agents were attacked and chased from voting stations.
But even as results were still being tallied, street celebrations erupted in parts of the capital Lusaka with several hundred in party regalia waving flags and rallying outside Hichilema’s house, AFP journalists saw. Others danced and honked car horns.
‘Victory in sight’
Hichilema, popularly referred to by his initials ‘HH’ or as Bally (slang for dad), on Sunday called for peace.
“With victory in sight, I’d like to ask for calm from our members and supporters,” he tweeted.
“We voted for change for a better Zambia that’s free from violence and discrimination.”
“Let us be the change we voted for and embrace the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity) to love and live together harmoniously.”
He later tweeted an image of a silhouette of his raised hand superimposed on a background bearing the inscription “change is here”.
Hichilema also tweeted a picture of himself and former president Rupiah Banda at the latter’s residence, saying they had just concluded a meeting.
“We discussed a wide range of issues bordering on the welfare of our people. We remain committed to ensuring a united and prosperous Zambia for all,” he wrote on Twitter.
Parties that backed Hichilema on Sunday scoffed at Lungu’s “unsubstantiated” claims of a marred vote, and urged him to concede.
International election observers have commended the transparent and peaceful organisation of the polls, but condemned the restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement during campaigning.
Security forces blocked Hichilema from campaigning in several areas, including the strategic Copperbelt Province, citing breaches of coronavirus measures and a public order act.
Lungu also deployed the military following pre-election clashes and reinforced the army presence in three provinces after two deaths were reported on election day.
Social media access, restricted in the capital Lusaka just as Hichilema cast his vote, was restored on Saturday following a court order.
Turnout at the polls was estimated at just over 70 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the Ministry of Health of Cote d’Ivoire has confirmed the country’s first case of Ebola since 1994. The Institut Pasteur in Cote d’Ivoire confirmed the presence of Ebola Virus Disease in samples collected from a patient who was hospitalised in the commercial capital of Abidjan, after arriving from Guinea. The patient had travelled to Cote d’Ivoire by road and arrived in Abidjan on August 12, 2021.
Guinea experienced a four-month long Ebola outbreak, which was declared over on the 19 June 2021. There is no indication that the current case in Cote d’Ivoire is linked to the earlier outbreak in Guinea, WHO says. Further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks.
“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than 4 million people,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Cote d’Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed. The country is one of the six that WHO has supported recently to beef up their Ebola readiness and this quick diagnosis shows preparedness is paying off.”
While Cote d’Ivoire borders Guinea and Liberia which were struck hard by the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, the country has had no confirmed cases reported since 1994, when an outbreak among chimpanzees infected a scientist.
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(Afrika-times.com) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged all eligible citizens to join the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and its allied regional forces and militias to fight against Tigrayan rebels. The appeal from his office follows the government’s unilateral declaration of a cease-fire in June 2021 as its military retreated from Tigray. The national call comes as TPLF fighters continue to advance further deep in neighbouring regions, gaining territorial victories.
Fighting between the national government and the TPLF broke out in November 2020, leaving about 4 million people in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions facing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, according to the United Nations. Both sides have been accused of atrocities.
Amnesty International has released a new report in which it says women and girls in Tigray were targeted for rape and other sexual violence by fighting forces aligned to the Ethiopian government. The report says members of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Regional Police Special Force (ASF), and Fano, an Amhara militia group were part of a pattern of acts of sexual violence, indicating that sexual violence was widespread and intended to terrorise and humiliate the victims and their ethnic groups.
The Ethiopian foreign ministry has responded in a statement, saying the Amnesty report is based on flawed methodology and relies heavily on interviews conducted in refugee camps in Sudan and remote interviews facilitated by “community workers”. The ministry says Amnesty International “seems bent on engaging in sensationalized attacks and smear campaigns against the Government of Ethiopia,
Nima Elbagir is an award-winning senior international correspondent for CNN based in London. She joined CNN in 2011 as a Johannesburg-based correspondent before moving to the network’s Nairobi bureau and later London.
Elbagir was named the 2020 Royal Television Society ‘Television Journalist of the Year’ and received the prestigious 2019 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award in the Investigative category for her reporting on human rights abuses, with the jurors citing her “fearless reporting across Africa, from a modern day slave market in Libya, to child labor in Congo, and a smuggler’s network in Nigeria, documented rarely seen exploitation and corruption.”
Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been declared the winner of Zambia’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Edgar Lungu, Al Jazeera reports. With 155 of 156 constituencies reporting, official results on Monday (August 16, 2021) showed Hichilema had secured 2,810,757 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201.Amid fears that Lungu will not recognise the results, the African Union’s election observer mission, led by former president Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, called for peace and calm. “The Mission urges all political leaders and their supporters to not undertake any action that will undermine the peace and stability of the country,” he said.Zambians voted on August 12, 2021 after a tense campaign dominated by economic woes, a debt crisis and the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
(Afrika-times.com) Somalia has rejected pressure for a diplomatic resolution to a longstanding maritime dispute with Kenya, maintaining the matter will be decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Despite a charm offensive by Kenya, Somalia reckons the ICJ must provide the final verdict on the dispute that has been running for close to a decade in which the neighbouring countries both claim ownership of large territories of the Indian Ocean with prospects of vast oil and gas deposits.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Raychelle Omamo made a maiden visit to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, where she held talks with Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and sought to push the agenda of an out-of-court settlement with a deal brokered by the African Union. However, Somalia stuck to its guns saying that the maritime dispute between both nations will be decided by The Hague-based court whose ruling is eagerly awaited after formal hearings in March this year. Kenya boycotted the hearings after accusing the ICJ of unfairness and unwillingness to delay the proceedings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Somalia has underscored that an existing maritime dispute between both nations will be decided by The Hague-based International Court of Justice, or ICJ, despite several requests by Kenya to reach a settlement out of court,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office.
The two east African neighbors dispute over 38,000 square miles of territory in the Indian Ocean with prospects of vast oil and gas deposits, a matter Somalia wants the ICJ to arbitrate. The dispute has also led to frosty diplomatic relations over accusations and counter-accusations about interference with domestic affairs, territorial integrity, trade and security.
The statement noted that the two ministers “emphasized the importance of taking concrete measures to show respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, which are the cornerstone of the relationship between the two countries.”
Somalia filed the case at the ICJ in 2014 on the basis that Kenya was encroaching on its marine territory and has repeatedly rejected calls to withdraw it and allow for a diplomatic resolution to the dispute.
Both countries are claiming ownership to the territory and have gone ahead to invite international companies to explore for gas and oil.
(Afrika-times.com) New York — The United Nations humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that the 1984 famine that killed more than 1 million Ethiopians could occur again if aid access to that country’s northern Tigray region is not quickly improved, scaled up and properly funded.”There is now famine in Tigray,” aid chief Mark Lowcock told a private, informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, according to a copy of his written remarks seen by VOA.He said the Tigray administration has reported deaths from starvation.”The situation is set to get worse in the coming months, not only in Tigray, but in Afar and Amhara, as well.”
Last week, urgent calls went out from the U.N. and partner aid agencies for a humanitarian cease-fire. It came on the heels of a report warning that 350,000 people were already in famine conditions in Tigray and that 2 million more were just a step away.The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC as it is known, reported that more than 5.5 million people overall were in crisis levels of food insecurity in Tigray and the neighboring zones of Amhara and Afar.The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF has also warned that 33,000 severely malnourished children in currently unreachable areas of Tigray are also at high risk of death.The scope of the problem is massive. Lowcock said there were 123 humanitarian agencies operating in the area and 10 times as many aid workers in Tigray today than at the start of the crisis in November.
“But substantial further scale-up is urgently required if we are to make a significant impact on growing needs,” Lowcock said.The United Nations has appealed for $853 million to assist 5.2 million people until the end of the year, with almost $200 million needed before the end of July.Access to people in remote and hard-to-reach areas has been an ongoing problem since the conflict erupted in November between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, said the situation did not warrant security council attention. He added that his government “vehemently disagreed” with the humanitarian assessment, saying data was collected in a “very botched” way.”Having said that, using humanitarian issues, particularly famine and starvation, in order to exert undue pressure on Ethiopia is completely unacceptable,” he told reporters after the meeting.
It’s not a drought or locusts that are causing this hunger, but the decisions of those in power,” British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said. “That means those in power could also end the suffering.”She added that Eritrean forces need to leave Ethiopia.”We were told in March that Eritrean forces would be withdrawing. It’s now June. There can be no further delay,” she told reporters.The Ethiopian envoy said the delay was due to “sorting some technical and procedural issues.””Our expectation is that they will definitely leave soon,” he said.U.S. envoy Jeffrey DeLaurentis told council members that “we have to act now” to prevent a famine, according to a diplomat familiar with the council’s discussion.DeLaurentis also called for an urgent end to hostilities, unhindered aid access and a political dialogue to resolve the crisis, as well as accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses.The U.N. Security Council has held a handful of private meetings on the growing crisis but has failed to take any serious action to pressure the parties to stop the fighting, allow aid workers safely in and get Eritrea’s troops to leave.In April, the council issued a statement calling for better humanitarian access, but it has taken no action to pressure spoilers to comply. Afrika-times.com
(Afrika-times.com) Two opposition parties in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region have won a majority of seats in the region’s first parliamentary election in 16 years, according to the National Electoral Commission.Out of parliament’s 82 seats, the Somaliland National Party, called Waddani, won 31 and the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), won 21 seats. The ruling Peace, Unity and Development Party, Kulmiye, secured 30 seats, the electoral commission said on Sunday.The vote had been stalled for a decade by a dispute among the three major parties over the makeup of the electoral commission, which was finally resolved.KEEP READINGSomaliland: Breakaway Somali region votes in parliamentary pollsKenya suspends Somalia flights for three monthsSomalia restoring ties with Kenya after nearly six months
“Following the announcement of the election results, we have announced a political alliance to get the speaker of the Somaliland parliament,” Waddani and UCID said in a joint statement, suggesting they would appoint a speaker together.The parties, which together also won a majority of the seats in municipal races, said that they aim to collaborate on city councils across the region and select mayors together.None of the 13 women who ran for parliament won their races.‘Relative stability’Politicians in the region had described the poll as an example of the relative stability of Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence.
The region has been mostly peaceful while Somalia has grappled with three decades of civil war.The three main parties put forward a total of 246 candidates. More than one million out of roughly four million residents had registered to vote, according to the electoral commission.Presidential elections have taken place in Somaliland, despite the stalled parliamentary vote, most recently in 2017 when President Muse Bihi, from the Kulmiye party, was elected. The next presidential vote is planned for next year.
The media frequently portray young people excluded from wage work as inactive, aimless and alienated from mainstream society. This image feeds into fears of crime, violence and social unrest in which people who are jobless are cast as a “ticking time bomb” that poses a threat to a country’s stability, reports The Conversation.African countries are experiencing an unprecedented level of unemployment among young people. The unemployment numbers are expected to increase given the booming youth population in Africa. The problem is particularly acute in South Africa. World Bank statistics show that in 2019 the youth unemployment rate in South Africa stood at 58%, which is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. For South Africa, the unemployment numbers are expected to increase. Over 60% of the unemployed at the start of 2020 were aged 15-34.A gender gap is also evident in the unemployment figures among people with advanced education. The unemployment rates of 2.3% in 2007 and 12% in 2019 for males with advanced education were lower than those of their female counterparts, which grew from 4.7% to 15%. This status risks long-term scarring effects for young people along with increases in informal working and social isolation
The combination of external actors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn. Dawit W. Giorgis, a visiting scholar at the African Studies Centre at Boston University.
Horn Of Africa Is The Most Militarized Region On Earth
The Horn of Africa is witnessing far-reaching changes in its external security relations. It is simultaneously experiencing an increase in the build-up of foreign military forces – on land and at sea – and a broadening of the security agendas pursued by these external actors.
The combination of these factors has made the Horn the most militarized and complex security region, housing the largest number of foreign military bases in the world. Though Egypt and Yemen are not in the Greater Horn, they are however part of the security complex of the Red Sea arena. It is known as the “choke point,” because much of the world’s commerce goes through this maritime route. At one point, when Somali pirates ruled the sea, the area was identified as the most dangerous naval zone in the world, notoriety now claimed by the Gulf of Guinea.
Those who control the Horn of Africa control a significant chunk of the world’s economies. The massive presence of six foreign military bases in Djibouti, and more in Sudan, Somalia and Somaliland, underlines the strategic importance of the Horn.
This situation would have inspired or forced the countries of the Horn to be more united and have common strategic and security policies. Each of these forces has a stake in the development of events in the Horn and an agenda that puts their interests at the forefront.However, there are notable rivalries between the countries of the Horn of Africa, which has not enabled the forging of the necessary harmony in their relationships.
Eritrea and Djibouti have not put their border conflict of 2007 behind them. However, they agreed to normalize their relationship two years ago, although Djibouti still considers Eritrea an enemy, considering a recent statement in relations to the prosecution of a pilot that allegedly tried to run away to an “enemy” territory.But a conference call between the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African countries on March 30, 2020, was made to forge a regional plan to combat the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Four presidents from Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti were joined by the prime ministers of Ethiopia and Sudan and the first vice-president of South Sudan. Eritrea did not participate, because its membership has not yet been regularized since it left IGAD in 2007.
This is while Kenya-Somalia relations have escalated in the last few years. It stems from the security concern related to the terror group Al-Shabaab and the maritime border dispute between the two states.
The terror group has been continuously launching attacks across the border at Kenyan military outposts and against civilians in the area.The maritime boundary dispute between Nairobi and Mogadishu further complicates the relationship between the two. Somalia instituted proceedings against Kenya before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about their maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean, on August 28, 2014. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has approved a request by Kenya to delay the public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.
The case is still pending.Taking the matter further, Kenya has started negotiating the withdrawal of its forces the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) by 2021, making Ethiopia carry the bulk of troop contributions of the five countries that will remain.
These are bad signals of souring relationships, which can contribute to the overall destabilization of the fragile region.Neither are Ethiopia and Sudan on the best of terms. The borders between the two countries are the scene of occasional fighting, with recent skirmishes having turned deadly. It is unnecessary and preventable incidents that only add to the burden of stress the two countries have on their very sensitive and fragile relationship.“It is not clear exactly what triggered a flare-up of this long-standing border dispute,” stated the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Sources suggest that Sudanese security forces may have responded to incursions by Ethiopian troops.”Sudan is in the unique position of being a member of the Arab League, which makes it close to Egypt, but a generally close ally of Ethiopia as well. It has to play high stakes diplomacy not to be seen as siding with either.
Despite enormous pressure from Egypt and the United States, Sudan has held its ground. The bold and calculated decision manifested this in voting against other members of the Arab League on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).Sudan expressed “reservations” that the resolution does not serve its interests and might lead to confrontations between the Arab League countries and Ethiopia. This support of Sudan should not be taken for granted though. Last week, Sudan called for the United Nations Security Council`s intervention regarding Ethiopia’s plan to fill the Dam.“While acknowledging Ethiopia’s right to utilize its natural resources, Sudan has stressed the need for consultation and cooperation among the three countries to avoid the harm lower stream countries could suffer as a result of Ethiopia’s activities,” read Sudan’s memorandum to the Security Council.Concerning the GERD, Sudan highlighted the benefits and threats that could follow the construction. It acknowledged the benefits the Dam could have in helping manage periodic flooding and in raising Sudan’s capacity to generate electric power.“On the other hand, Sudan claimed that the construction of the Dam could change the flow line of the river and that it could affect Sudanese citizens negatively if the design, construction and filling works are not followed daily and closely.”This should be of great concern to Ethiopia, especially considering that a new regional organization with suspect motives – Council of Arab and African States Bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (CAASBRSGA) – has already been established on January 6, 2020. Although Egypt first initiated the idea, it was later taken over by Saudi Arabia.Its members are the coastal states of the Red Sea, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen (the internationally recognized government), Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.
The stated goals of this new organization are to improve cooperation and coordination among the members in matters related to politics, economy, culture, the environment and security. The Council is an unnecessary organization and one loaded with an Arab and Egyptian agenda. The Arab League is installing its subsidiary branch closer to home.“One of the most important issues is the one of membership. Currently, the criteria to be a member of the Council are to be a Red Sea coastal state.
This is the criterion defended by Egypt,” wrote the Middle Eastern business and financial news outlet MENAFN. “This position seeks to keep Ethiopia outside of Red Sea affairs, a position not shared by many of the members, who believe that despite its lack of access to the sea, Addis Ababa is a key player in Red Sea affairs. The reason for this absence is the litigation that Egypt and Ethiopia maintain over the construction of the Renaissance Dam in the Nile.”The stated goals of the Council include matters related to the Nile, an issue vital for Ethiopia. The strategy of Egypt and its allies is to choke Ethiopia through myriad projects. Ethiopia must vigorously fight such moves, but it does not seem that the Ethiopian government is aware of the dangers. At the same time, it flirts with the very countries that are active partners on the other side of the debate.
There has been a flurry of activities between South Sudan and Egypt as well since the crisis between Ethiopia and Egypt intensified over the GERD. Some of these activities are suspicious.
South Sudan had submitted its application in 2018, for a second time, to join the Arab League. There have also been diplomatic moves led by Egypt within the Arab League emphasizing the importance of South Sudan joining the organization, given Juba’s strategic geographical position serving as the Arab gateway to Africa.
With steadily and warmer relations with Ethiopia’s new neighbor, South Sudanese President Silva Kiir and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi have exchanged visits followed by several others at ministerial levels.Bringing South Sudan into the Arab League completes the strangulation of Ethiopia by Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Seen together with the Council on The Red Sea Coast, the threats directed at Ethiopia are real and severe.This is the result of the failure of Ethiopia`s diplomacy.
Its fractured unity and volatile internal security situation have resulted in establishing a fertile ground for Egypt and other extremist and hostile forces to recruit people and spread propaganda that will further destabilize the country.Ethiopian diplomacy suffered a big blow when the 23 Arab League members, except Sudan, supported the draft resolution prepared by Egypt.
This must have been a clear sign that there was little effort from Ethiopia’s side.“The draft agreement proposed by the United States and the World Bank is fair and serves the interests of the three countries,” affirmed The Arab League.Somalia and Djibouti, Ethiopia’s “close allies,” voted for it. Eritrea, an observer, said nothing.
Although its president, Isaias Afwerki, has come out as an elder statesman and mentor of Ethiopia`s Prime Minister, we have yet to see him as “a friend in need, a friend indeed.”This diplomatic spat is occurring in a region that should otherwise be banding together to address challenges that affect every member.
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) has warned East African countries about the outbreak of the desert locust, which has already placed around 20 million people in acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
Ethiopia and the region are facing three-pronged attacks: pandemics, possible famine and regional and internal security challenges. A vital organ in such a time would have been IGAD, which until 1996 was preceded by the establishment of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought & Development (IGADD) was initiated in the mid-1980s.This was after Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda took action through the United Nations to establish an intergovernmental body for development and drought control in their region in 1983 and 1984.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government met in Djibouti in January 1986 to sign the agreement, which officially launched IGADD with its headquarters in Djibouti. Eritrea became the seventh member after attaining its independence in 1993.
Then the focus was drought and food security.The recurring and severe droughts and other natural disasters in the decade beginning 1974 caused widespread famine, ecological degradation and economic hardship in the Eastern Africa region.
Although individual countries made substantial efforts to cope with the situation and received generous support from the international community, the magnitude and extent of the problem argued strongly for a regional approach to supplement national efforts.IGAD has never solved any political crisis. But it serves as a forum where leaders can meet and discuss their shared concerns.
However, IGAD can only be what its members want it to be. It can be an excellent tool if external agendas do not subvert it.
Members must first be committed to peaceful resolution through bilateral negotiations.
Creating other layers of organizations for the Horn will not help achieve any of the development, security and cooperation goals, but merely makes IGAD redundant. The regional body must be supported and reinforced to be a relevant organization. The spirit of cooperation needed here is one that President Isaias, Somalia’s Mohamed Farmajo Abdullahi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) showed when they agreed on a joint plan of action for this year after the third edition of a tripartite summit in Asmara. This was in February 2020.
The alliance also adopted a new Joint Plan of Action for 2020.The plan focuses “on two main and intertwined objectives of consolidating peace, stability and security, as well as promoting economic and social development,” as Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea`s Information Minister, explained.“They also agreed to bolster efforts for effective regional cooperation.”On the security front, the leaders formulated a strategy to combat common threats, such as terrorism, arms and human trafficking, and drug smuggling. These efforts are leading “to some sort of Horn of Africa coalition,” even a “Cushitic Alliance,” according to the East African newspaper.Such an alliance will overlap with the mandate of IGAD.
It remains ambiguous what is in the minds of these leaders. But to an outsider, this looks like more of a problem than a solution.How can the three countries, in exclusion of Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya, forge an alliance that can bring peace to the region?Beyond the long-term ambition of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to control the Horn of Africa, the immediate goal of Egypt is to secure its interest on the Nile. Many Ethiopians are expressing their anger and showing patriotism through a rhetoric of war.
War in this politically charged, highly militarized strategic region would be destructive beyond our imagination.
If anyone “wins,” it will only be at enormous cost. Even that will be a preparation for the next round of war.The case of Egypt needs wisdom and patience.
War should be the ultimate exercise to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country. Heroes are those who prevent war and not make war.
There is an attempt to resuscitate discussions between Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt, but tripartite talks should not be the preferred way for Ethiopia. This case is about the Nile and the rights of the Nile Basin countries. Sudan is not a reliable partner in this case for Ethiopia.
The issue is best served if brought before the Nile Basin countries and not a tripartite meeting where the odds do not favor Ethiopia.The only viable option for Ethiopia and Egypt is to bring back their case to Africa, call an emergency meeting of the heads of state of the Nile Basin countries and continue the dialogue and, if necessary, bring it to the level of the African Heads of State.
But before this can be done, the Ethiopian government has to do the legwork by approaching each of the Nile Basin countries and presenting its case and a possible solution that will serve the interests of both Egypt and Ethiopia. These discussions should be led by knowledgeable people that understand the intricacy of the problem at hand.
In the meantime, unilateral actions on both sides should be avoided as much as possible.The foundation for stability in the Horn begins with bilateral efforts to solve their differences in the face of mounting political, security and pandemic crisis. It is not patriotism not to compromise but is expressed best when the crisis between countries are solved through bilateral negotiations, including compromise.Give and take is the essence of diplomacy. But leaders need to know what to give and what to take. This requires a grasp on history and debate.
The building blocks for sustainable peace in the region begin with a capacity of each leader to discern the truth and not to mistake information as knowledge.
For the latter, leaders have people who have a sense of history and can see the big picture through the lenses of current affairs.The fact that the Horn of Africa is the most militarized region on earth is not a coincidence. Let us encourage our leaders to take stock of the situation on the area and trek carefully in this treacherous minefield: what the Horn has become.
More than 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray region are suffering famine conditions, with millions more at risk, according to an analysis by UN agencies and aid groups that blamed conflict for the worst food crisis in a decade.“There is famine now in Tigray,” the UN aid chief,
Mark Lowcock, said on Thursday after the release of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.“The number of people in famine conditions … is higher than anywhere in the world, at any moment since a quarter million Somalis lost their lives in 2011,” Lowcock said.Most of the 5.5 million people in Tigray need food aid. Fighting broke out in the region in November between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2 million from their homes in the mountainous region.Ethiopia rejects calls for ceasefire in Tigray, claiming victory is nearThe most extreme warning by the IPC – a scale used by UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups to determine food insecurity – is phase 5, which starts with a catastrophe warning and rises to a declaration of famine in a region.