– NEWS –
End of EU and Arab League’s first summit: European Union and Arab League leaders have concluded their first-ever summit in the resort town of Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt. They said in a final statement they were determined to start a new era of cooperation in different areas. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi defended his country’s widely-criticised human rights record and claimed that no concerns about human rights in Egypt – or any of the other 48 countries – were raised publicly in Sharm el-Sheikh. But EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that this was not true and that the summit did talk about human rights. Juncker said the issue was raised behind closed doors in bilateral meetings between leaders. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the summit was important for acknowledging cultural, religious and other differences while trying to find joint solutions, such as in Syria. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the fate of the EU depended to a significant degree on the fate of the countries of the Arab League. She called for a new peace process in Syria.
Algerian President Bouteflika announces plans to run for fifth term: Embattled Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has declared his candidacy for next month’s election, defying massive protests in the country over the ailing and absent ruler’s refusal to relinquish his grip on power. Bouteflika will run in April’s elections, his campaign manager said on Sunday, while offering to step down after a year if re-elected. Bouteflika would call for early elections, but only if he is elected again. Bouteflika promised that, if re-elected in April, he would hold a national conference to implement political reforms and set a date for a second election where he would not be a candidate. The comments are likely to be viewed as an attempt to appease those who had taken to the streets for ten days to protest against the 82-year-old’s plans to remain in office and to allow him an exit on his own terms. An estimated 6,000 Algerians protested in Paris on Sunday, while thousands of students took to the streets in Algiers.
cnn.com, reuters.com, theguardian.com
Trouble with Germany’s Africa commissioner: The group Fachverband Afrikanistik e.V. has raised serious charges against Germany’s Africa Commissioner, Günter Nooke. The group accused Nooke of using colonial stereotypes and racist undertones in an interview with a German newspaper. In an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Development Minister Gerd Müller, Fachverband Afrikanistik e.V. called for Nooke’s resignation. During a conversation with the group at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Nooke defended his statements and said any form of racism was alien to him. The group now accused Nooke of wanting to silence critics. Several times the Africa researchers with fixed-term contracts were reminded that they should keep their own future in mind.
Nigeria’s President Buhari reelected: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the country’s elections, according to the electoral commission who said he polled 56 percent of the votes. Buhari defeated his main challenger Atiku Abubakar by a margin of nearly four million votes. Buhari swept the north, while Abubakar did better in the south and east. Although turnout was low across the country, it was higher in the northern states – one factor behind Buhari’s victory. Delays and violence marred the run-up to Saturday’s poll but no independent observer has cited electoral fraud. Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) rejected the election results calling the electoral process militarized and a disservice to Nigeria’s democracy. Buhari announced that the new administration would intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption.
US special forces train troops in Burkina Faso: US troops were on hand to help oversee a large-scale training exercise in Burkina Faso, where local forces were drilled on how to cope with an attack that could potentially target thousands. While officials say Burkinabe forces have made dramatic improvements over the years and demonstrated a willingness to learn and confront the terrorist threat, multiple US and European advisers acknowledged that there are many challenges involved in training them. Officials also noted that coordinating the various elite units of the Burkinabe security forces with units from other countries in the region, including Mali and Niger, who also took part in the exercise presents a challenge. The three nations, along with Mauritania and Chad, make up the G-5 Sahel, a multinational task force charged with combating transnational terrorists including the local ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates that regularly cross the border to carry out attacks.
Germany reckons with a long troop deployment in Mali: During a visit to Mali, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said the worse thing Germany could do would be to pull troops out of the country. Maas stressed that the German deployment in Mali was very dangerous. Two Bundeswehr soldiers have died in the West African country since Germany first sent troops there in 2013. The minister said that despite the dangers, though, he was confident that Germany’s commitment was making a contribution to peace in the region. Cooperation with other countries sending troops to Mali is also working well, he stressed. The Bundeswehr is in Mali to train its main armed forces and to enable troops to engage with the security situation, to empower them to restore stability in the country. Maas has also held talks in Sierra Leone as well as in Burkina Faso, where he pledged €46 million to stabilize those regions particularly affected by terrorism and crime. At the end of Maas’ five-day trip to West Africa, the minister was left stranded in Mali after his government airplane was unable to depart due to a problem.
Algeria: More than 180 injured in protests calling for Algeria’s president to resign cbc.ca
Islamist terrorist militia al-Shabab: Somali forces end day-long Mogadishu siege bbc.com
Fight against abuse: African Church leaders express concern about clerical abuse irishcatholic.com
Literature: The colonial empire writes back deutschlandfunknova.de
Cabo Verde Airlines: Icelandair to buy Cabo Verde Airlines aeronauticsonline.com
Congo: Doctors Without Borders leaves following attack doctorswithoutborders.org
– BACKGROUND –
German intelligence warns of Nigerian mafia in Germany: The German Federal Intelligence Service has issued a warning that the Nigerian mafia is seeking to establish itself in Germany, according to a report by the “Spiegel” newspaper based on a confidential report by the intelligence service. The report states that the arrival of Nigerian asylum seekers, who are increasingly coming from Italy to Germany, would lead to a strengthening of violent Nigerian organized crime structures. Nigerian criminal groups have already formed strong structures in Italy in recent years, where they are at eye level with the local mafia. The service warns that Nigerian traffickers are now attempting to bring refugees to Europe via the West Mediterranean route. However, more and more papers from Nigerian nationals who are already in Europe would also be used to fly in similar-looking people on planes.
What is Africa’s position on Venezuela?: What is the correct response to Venezuela’s crisis? This past week, the UN Security Council debated two draft resolutions, one from Russia and one from the US, on this matter. The US demanded free elections and the opening of the border to aid deliveries. Nine countries, including Germany supported this demand. South Africa and China, however, voted against the proposal, backing the Russian call for noninterference in Venezuelan politics. Equatorial Guinea also backed the Russian proposal, which failed, however, to garner enough support. The South African Development Community (SADC) has refused to back opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president. Many African countries have historical ties to Venezuela. During the Cold War, several African resistance movements were supported by socialist regimes. Angola, for instance, received direct military support from Cuba. Many of the ties still exist today.
Germany open to all?: In the German talk show “Hart aber Fair”, sociologist Armin Nassen explained the meaning of the term “home” and why it is turning into a new buzzword. The word “home” gains more importance whenever a society becomes increasingly mobile, he said. But the term is also easily politicized. Green party leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt is worried that the term could be brought in connection with isolationism. She stressed that everyone in Germany belonged to the country, and that there was also an importance to providing a home for people. Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs Hubert Aiwanger showed concern that the topic would only be associated with right-wing politics.
– NUMBER –
Around 431,668 travelers from German-speaking countries visited South Africa last year. That is an increase of 11.8% for Austrian tourists and 2.4% for German tourists. The South African Tourist Office has set itself the goal of increasing the number of tourists by five million by the year 2021.
– QUOTE –
“These often occult organizations have significant influence over the economic and political elites of Nigeria, but also close links with criminal gangs.”
Risk advisor Dirk Steffen, who has encountered many such organizations during his time working in Nigeria, warns against mafia networks in the country. He thinks it is plausible that some of these groups include migrants and refugees, as the German intelligence service has assessed.
– AT LAST –
Luxembourg PM takes Arab leaders to task on gay rights: As state leaders addressed the EU-Arab League summit in Egypt earlier this week, it was comments made by the Luxembourg prime minister about his sexuality that drew attention. Xavier Bettel confronted Arab leaders over the repression of gay rights, telling them his same-sex marriage would condemn him to death in some of their countries. The conference room fell silent when Bettel made his statement, according to a German TV journalist. Recounting the moment on Twitter, journalist Stefan Leifert said the prime minister’s comments were met with an icy silence from some members of the audience, while others revelled in a quiet joy.