Showing posts with label North Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Africa. Show all posts

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Uprisings in North Africa top 17th AU Summit Agenda

1 Jul 2011 19:41 Africa/Lagos

17th AU Summit / Opening of AU summit hears of need to heed lessons from North Africa

MALABO, July 1, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Jean Ping today said the popular uprisings in North Africa should be seen as an opportunity for AU member states to renew their commitment to the AU agenda for democracy and governance and to implement socio economic reforms that are demanded by their people.

Furthermore, the Commission underscored the importance of achieving peace, saying there could be no development otherwise.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the 17th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Malabo, Dr Ping delivered an impassioned and powerful speech in which he exhorted Africa to speak with one voice in resolving conflicts such as the one in Libya. He stressed that it is the Libyans themselves who should take ownership of the democratic change. The Chairperson commended the efforts of the AU ad hoc committee seeking to find a solution to the Libyan situation. He underscored the role of the Commission in the peace process in Libya, saying the Union's adhoc committee had drawn up a roadmap before the passing of UN resolution 1973.

The Chairperson observed that Tunisia and Egypt had made remarkable progress over the past few months. The two countries, he said, witnessed a new climate of pluralistic debate and freedom, which allows the citizens to be aware and also allows for the consolidation of a democratic culture. He reported that he visited the two countries to assure them of the support of the AU. In addition, the Peace and Security Council of the AU remains seized with the issue. He thanked Tunisia and Egypt for hosting the thousands of refugees who are fleeing Libya.

Mr Ping, who was delivering a review of the situation in Africa from January to December this year, mainly focused on peace and security because the period under review was a difficult one.

He welcomed the impending birth of the new African state of South Sudan, the 54th member of the African Union on 9 July- this coming after the January referendum that confirmed the desire of South Sudan for independence. To applause from the delegates, the Chairperson introduced Mr Salva Kirr Mayardit of South Sudan, who was attending the meeting as an observer, but is to become the President of the new state.

In Somalia, Dr Ping applauded the “sense of sacrifice and commitment” of the troops of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

He also applauded the end of the crisis in Cote D'Ivoire and welcomed its President to the African Union. He also commended the President for the truth and reconciliation process and said the African Union was one of the first institutions to recognise Mr Outarra's victory.

Mr Ping commended the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Chad, and noted the return of peace to the Comoros, Burundi, Liberia, and Guinea Bissau.

He however lamented the continuing stalemate in Western Sahara and the lack of progress in the normalisation of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the difficulties with Madagascar and Djibouti. “The situations require the attention of the African Union”, he said.

The Chairperson's delivery also gave great importance and recognition to the role played by the African Union and African leaders in the resolution of conflicts. Of note he highlighted the following:

The conclusion of the agreement on security arrangements in Abyei, Sudan, with the facilitation of the AU High Implementation Panel led by former president Thabo Mbeki, and which includes former presidents Abdulsalami Abubakar and Pierre Buyoya.

The offer by Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Meles Zenawi to make Ethiopian troops available as part of the Interim Force Security for Abyei to facilitate implementation of the agreement

The role played by President Yoweri Museveni in facilitating the Kampala agreement which aims to resolve disputes that pitted Somali leaders against each other

The contribution of the Chairperson of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development Mr Meles Zenawi and his peers in IGAD, in promoting a programme of peace, stability, democracy in Somalia

President Muhamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Yoweri Museveni, Ahmadu Toumani Toure, Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Jacob Zuma were commended for their efforts on Libya as the high level ad hoc committee on Libya.

Deepening of Democracy in Africa

Dr Ping also noted progress on the continent in terms of the elections that have been held in some member states in the past six months, in spite of difficulties and short comings in some instances. These elections, he said, bear witness to a “deepening pluralistic democracy” on the continent. In this respect, he acknowledged Presidents Elhadj Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Alassane Outarra of Cote D'Ivoire; Yayi Boni of Benin, Goodluck Jonathan Ebele of Nigeria, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Yoweri Museveni Yussef of Uganda, James Alix Michel of the Seychelles, and Idriss Deby of Chad.

Work being done in fulfilment of other priority areas of the Commission

On economic integration, Mr. Ping applauded the joint action undertaken by the Community of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (ECA) to create “the biggest free trade area on the continent”.

He referred to the Pan African University as a flagship project. Its formation was approved last May and the first three faculties should be launched in September, the Chairperson said. He also said the Campaign for the Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA) is picking up, with 29 AU member states having launched the campaign in their countries. With regard to agriculture and the environment, the Chairperson pointed to the progress made in the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), to help ensure food security. 25 member states have signed the CAADP compact. In terms of infrastructure development, Dr Ping said the Commission will continue to give full attention to the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) programme.

Commission's financial situation

With reference to the financial situation of the Commission, Mr. Ping said the Commission continues to ponder over the issue. The AU, he said, needs to be strong and to be provided with the resources it needs to ensure stability and development.

Theme of the summit

Addressing the theme of the summit “accelerating youth empowerment for development”, Mr. Ping said the theme was timely at this crucial moment given their role in the Arab spring. He said the youth should be capacitated so that they can contribute meaningfully to the development of the continent.

Youth are an asset: guest speakers

Deputy United Nations Secretary General Ms Asha Rose Migiro; Mr. Ahmed Ben Helty Deputy Secretary General of the League of Arab States; and Mr. Lula Da Silva, former President of Brazil and special envoy of the Brazilian President also addressed the opening session.

Ms Migiro dwelt on the UN role in support of the AU's efforts in peace and security, democracy and empowerment of African youth.

Mr Ben Helty talked about the great importance of attending to issues of the youth, citing their power to effect change, as evidenced by their central role in the “Arab spring”.

Mr Lula Da Silva motivated the summit by explaining that youth are an asset rather than a problem. He gave concrete examples of the policies he implemented when he was Brazil's President to uplift the youth and the disadvantaged.

Institutionalisation of the AU Youth Charter

Mr. Teodoro Ibiang Nguema, and President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Chairperson of the African Union placed emphasis on the need for Africa to fully finance the African Union. In keeping with the summit theme, he proposed the institutionalisation of the AU Youth Volunteer Corp and offered Malabo as the headquarters for such an institution.

Respect for two former presidents

The opening session observed a minute of silence in memory of two former Heads of State: i.e. Ange-Felix Patasse, former President of the Central African Republic and Frederick Chiluba, former President of the Republic of Zambia.

Launch of PATTEC, Central Africa

The session also saw the launching of the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) activities in the Central African region. (see separate press release)

Laying of foundation stone for the African Observatory

There was also a ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone for the African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation. (see separate press release)

Source: African Union Commission (AUC)

Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time

1 Jul 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

FOCUS LIBYA: G8, Gaddafi has to go

30 May 2011 13:32 Africa/Lagos

FOCUS LIBYA: G8, Gaddafi has to go

ROME, May 30, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The violence in Libya and Syria needs to stop but the “Arab Spring” must be helped, starting with support for economic and social development. The G8 Summit in Deauville, the first since the rebellions broke out in North Africa, shone the spotlight on the upheaval on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. It also set up an ad hoc fund to support the region (and more in general the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region).

“Today we launched the ‘Deauville Partnership' with the people of the region, based on our common goals for the future, in the presence of the Prime Ministers of Egypt and Tunisia, the two countries that originated the movement, and of the Secretary General of the Arab League”, reads the declaration on the Arab Spring. “We stand ready to extend this long term global Partnership to all countries of the region engaging in a transition towards free, democratic and tolerant societies (‘Partnership Countries'), beginning with Egypt and Tunisia, in association with countries wishing to support transition in the region”.

According to the Final Declaration, “this Partnership is based on two pillars: a political process to support the democratic transition and foster governance reforms, notably the fight against corruption and the strengthening of the institutions needed to ensure transparency and accountable government; and an economic framework for sustainable and inclusive growth”.

The funds will be delivered through the international financial institutions and multilateral development banks and will be linked to support for development and to the reform effort.

The G8 also calls for the immediate cessation of the use of force against civilians by the Libyan regime forces and a political solution that reflects the will of the Libyan people. It states that Gaddafi and the Libyan government have lost all legitimacy and that the Libyan leader must go. It calls on the Syrian leadership to stop using force and intimidation against the Syrian people and to engage in dialogue and fundamental reforms in response to the legitimate expression of the demands of the Syrian people.

The G8 leaders also appeal for an urgent solution in the Middle East. “We are convinced that the historic changes throughout the region make the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations more important, not less. We urge both parties to engage without delay in substantive talks with a view to concluding a framework agreement on all final status issues”.

Source: Italy - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time

30 May 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bye, Bye Mubarak

The Egyptian zealots of Tahrir Square have won!

I salute the brave zealots of Tahrir Square in Cairo who stood their ground against the draconian laws of President Hosni Mubarak.

The will of the people of Egypt has prevailed over the evil reign of President Hosni Mubarak as he surrendered and handed over power to military. This is the end of the kleptomaniac government of one of the most corrupt rulers in Africa.

The wind of change began blowing from Tunisia three weeks ago and sent President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali packing. Now the second autocratic government to fall is that of Hosni Mubarak. Who is next?

The wind of change blowing in North Africa will spread to the rest of Africa and will be welcomed in Zimbabwe where the life president Robert Mugabe will either resign in peace or be disgraced out of office.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

Friday, February 4, 2011

Protest swells in Cairo

Thousands of anti-government protesters gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square as Egyptian troops bar pro-Mubarak loyalists from entering. Katharine Jackson reports.

© 2011 Reuters

4 Feb 2011 18:10 Africa/Lagos

Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on current the situation in North Africa

GENEVA, February 4, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on current the situation in North Africa

Thank you for coming once again. It is unusual for me to hold two press conferences within a week. This is a reflection of the extreme importance I place on what has been going on in North Africa over the past few weeks, and the ramifications for human rights further afield.

First I would like to make a few comments about what is happening in Egypt, before turning to Tunisia and handing over to my high-level team who have just returned from there.

I last spoke to you about Egypt on Tuesday, before vast and peaceful demonstrations and marches were held in Alexandria, Cairo and other cities. The world has been watching as events have unfolded since.

I warned then, and I reiterate again, that governments must listen to their people and put in practise their human rights obligations. Regimes that deprive people of their fundamental rights, that depend on a ruthless security apparatus to impose their will, are bound to fail in the long-term. Stability depends on the development of human rights and democracy.

Tuesday ended on an optimistic note in Egypt. The peaceful demonstrations showed that the chaos, which some were presenting as the only possible alternative to the existing system, was by no means the inevitable outcome.

The violence we all hoped would not happen, did happen on Wednesday when we saw shocking scenes of opposing groups hurling Molotov cocktails, fire bombs and barrages of large stones at each other. Again, there was a noticeable absence of police, and the army failed to separate the two groups, with tragic consequences.

This violence must stop.

Yesterday President Mubarak gaved a television interview in which he said he would like to step down now, but fears the only alternative would be chaos. In the last two days we have seen chaos in central Cairo, and one of the prime drivers of this chaos seems to have been the actions of Egypt's security and intelligence services.

I urge the authorities to make a strong, clear and unequivocal call on the security and intelligence forces that have protected the authoritarian regime in Egypt for the past 30 years, to stop undermining the security of the state they are supposed to serve.

The Prime Minister has apologized for Wednesday's violence. I welcome this public recognition – unique in Egypt's recent history – that the authorities have failed in their duties to protect the people. I urge Egypt to follow through and make the necessary reforms to promote human rights and democracy. There must be an investigation into whether this violence was planned, and if so by whom. This investigation must be undertaken in a transparent and impartial manner.

Over the past two days, we have learned of other extremely disturbing developments, including the physical assaults on, and intimidation and arbitrary detention of, dozens of journalists in what is clearly a blatant attempt to stifle news of what is going on in Egypt.

We have heard of the harassment and arbitrary detention of local and international human rights defenders, including most notably 20 or more people taken yesterday from the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre by military police. Those detained include some of Egypt's leading activists as well as staff of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – two of the most respected international human rights organizations. As of the time I left for this briefing, I understand they had still not been freed from military detention.

All journalists and human rights defenders who were arrested for practicing their professions must be released immediately and unconditionally. The authorities must order their security and intelligence forces to cease this extreme harassment at once.

I also urge the authorities to maintain open communications and internet services, protect media premises, and halt all activities aimed at restricting or manipulating the free flow of information, such as the extraordinary hijacking of Vodaphone's system in order to send propaganda text messages.

Egypt must implement its international human rights obligations and prevent further violence. Protestors must be properly protected, including from each other. The security and intelligence forces must be held accountable. Change is coming to Egypt, as it came to Tunisia, but the violence and bloodshed must stop now.

Governments should listen to their people, and start addressing their human rights deficits immediately. Waiting until unrest actually happens is, as we have seen in Tunisia and are now seeing in Egypt, not only perpetuating systems that to a greater or lesser degree transgress international laws and standards, it is also a classic case of acting too little, too late. We now see there is an intense hunger for human rights in the Middle East and North Africa – and of course in other countries in other regions. Governments who ignore these extremely loud and clear warning signals, are doing so at their own peril.

As in Egypt, human rights are at the heart of the political change that has happened in Tunisia. In Tunisia, people expressed loudly and clearly their appetite for a genuine break with the past and for a new era in their countries. Socio-economic hardship coupled with a denial of human rights and justice were the instigators for the widespread protests in both countries.

My team of senior human rights experts has just returned from visiting Tunisia and the information they received confirmed how integral human rights will be for the construction of the future of this country. They have briefed me on their observations and findings.

I was particularly moved by the words of one man whose 28-year-old son died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest, as he gathered with other young men to protect their neighbourhood from armed militias. Speaking of the death of his son, he told my team that, “there must be sacrifices for there to be change.” His courageous words convey the enormity of the change for ordinary Tunisians and their desire and determination to achieve it despite colossal personal sacrifices and pain. Tunisians are anxious to see the human rights gains of recent weeks reinforced and entrenched in law so that they become a permanent feature of their country.

My team is currently finalizing a written report, based on which I will decide on the best ways in which my Office can provide immediate and more long-term support and assistance to the Tunisian people on a range of human rights issues.

I will now hand over to my team for their direct accounts of what they witnessed in Tunisia over the past week and their impressions.

Source: United Nations - Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)