Somalia – Upcoming Elections

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The government moves towards party politics in a bid to put an end to clan factionalism. 

According to a recent forum of regional and national leaders, members of Somalia’s new parliament must join a political party within two years or step down, as the country seeks to move away from clan-based politics, which has largely fuelled more than two decades of conflict in the country.

Elections for a new President will be held in October 2016 when 275 members of the lower house of parliament will also be chosen by around 14,000 people, in turn will be chosen by elders from major clans. While only a small part of the total 11 million people in the country, in 2012 the parliament was chosen by just 135 elders.

“The leaders of the National Leadership Forum agreed to promote the establishment and registration of political parties within two years, starting from the date when the 10th parliament is elected,” the forum said after a week-long meeting.

Many diplomats have been pushing for the elections are recurrent delays; the term of the existing parliament ends on August 20th while the President’s term expires on September 9th, reported Reuters.

The country continues to face widespread security risks from the Al-Shabaab group; between August 10-13th Somali commandos and US Special Forces killed 30 Al-Shabaab militants in the Middle Juba region near to the Kenyan border. Among those killed were senior commanders including Abu Ubeida the Al-Shabaab leader in Southern Somalia, reported Shabelle Media Network.

Somalia was plunged into civil war in the early 1990s following the toppling of dictator Siad Barre and has not held elections for several decades.

Current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is standing for re-election alongside an as-yet-undetermined number of opponents, including Fadumo Dayib, a Finnish citizen who is aiming to become the first female leader in the country, reported Newsweek.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon emphasised, “the importance of Somalia’s 2016 electoral process being conducted in a transparent, credible and inclusive manner, and in a climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” reported the UN News Centre.

At the same time, amidst peace talks between the Somaliland, Puntland and a self declared Khaatumo administration in the Northern Sool region, an amnesty has been agreed for Somaliland politicians in the capital Mogadishu, reported Garowe Online. Politicians had previously been unable to travel from the autonomous regions to the capital.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

SOMALIA: Electoral Commission
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.7, Pp.21069A–21069B

SOMALIA: Suicide Bombers Target AMISOM HQ
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.7, Pp.21083A–21085A

SOMALIA: Elections Planned
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.6, Pp.21032B–21033A

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Africa – Piracy

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Frequency of attacks drops in East Africa but kidnappings rise in the Gulf of Guinea – AU says seaport security crucial.

On July 26th the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), part of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said that piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia has fallen to its lowest levels since 1995, with only one incident in the last six months.

However, the IMB stated that it “believes that a single successful hijacking of a merchant vessel, will rekindle the Somali pirates’ passion to resume its piracy efforts.” The organisation added that Somali pirates continue to hold 29 crew members for ransom as of June 30th, reported Somali news service Shabelle.

A Netherlands-based firm, Atlantic Marine and Offshore Group, which was contracted to build six ships for the Somali Coast Guard in July 2013, is close to delivering the vessels and will also train the navy tasked with operating the ships, which is expected to take 5-6 more years. The vessels will be used to combat piracy, illegal fishing, waste dumping, and weapons deliveries to the al-Shabaab group.

Somali ambassador to the European Union (EU), Dr Ali Sa’id Faqi, said the creation of a coastguard represented a historic leap for Somalia and the government had signed an agreement with Netherlands-based Atlantic Marine and Offshore Group to train Somali coastguard personnel, reported Dalsan Radio.

IMB’s global piracy report recorded 98 incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 for the same period in 2015. In 2010 and 2003, the IMB recorded around 445 attacks a year. The IMB has a live piracy incident feed, available here.

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NATO Counter-Piracy Troops, Somalia CC – 2012.

Despite a drop in East Africa the IMB report noted there had been a surge of kidnappings off West Africa, with 44 crew members kidnapped in 2016. China on July 28th announced plans to support infrastructural development in the Gulf of Guinea to help in the fight against piracy.

On July 25th the African Union’s (AU) African Day of the Seas and Oceans focused on the theme, ‘Maritime Governance for Sustainable Development’. Seaports are crucial to African economies but are easily accessible to criminals, pirates and drug smugglers.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) the low standard of living for populations living near to the ports can fuel port insecurity. Reports show that African ports often fail to meet the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code.

According to ISS the government in many countries seems to lack commitment to protect coasts and did not have maritime strategies in place, or if they did, they were not implemented satisfactorily.

In the Gulf of Guinea, the ISS reported that only two out of the planned maritime coordination centres are operational and while there had been some successes in Operation Prosperity by Benin and Nigeria, inter-state joint patrols are still at an experimental stage. (BBC News 13-17/7; Dalsan Radio 17/7; ISS 26/7; Shabelle 26/7; Xinhua 29/7)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Piracy
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.21217A

Piracy – Drop in Recorded Cases
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue. 2, Pp.21180C

Somalia – Piracy [Free to Access]
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue. 11, Pp.21076B

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Angola – Hydropower on the Agenda

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As completion dates approach for a number of large projects the government states it is willing to trial new technology.

Reconstruction works on the Matala dam, located around 180km from Lubango city in southern Huila province, which have cost around US$249.6 million, are nearing completion and are intended to dramatically increase the safety and water storage capacity at the facility.

The works have added eight new sluice gates to an already existing 29 which allows for a greater control and regulation of the flow of water. Project Director of Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, Celso Pontes said that the a second phases would involve new generator sets and the modernisation of the power station itself, reported Macauhub.

The Matala Dam was built on the Cunene River in 1954 and alongside generating power the facility also stores water for irrigation systems in the southern agricultural areas.

Meanwhile at the Cambambe hydroelectric dam a second turbine will be operational within two months as part of works estimated at $2bn, which began in 2009 and include raising the height of the dam, new power stations and new convertors to support connections between the Cambambe I and II, Capanda and the Lauca dams, reported Macauhub.

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Capanda Dam, Kwanza River – CC

The Cambambe dam is located on the Kwanza river alongside two others; the Lauca dam under construction in works estimated at $4.3bn by Brazilian firm Odebrecht – the largest civil engineering project in the country – and the Capanda dam located 47km upstream from Lauca.

According to Minister of Energy and Water João Baptista Borges, Angola has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Privinvest industrial group for the commencement of hydrokinetic production over the next decade.

The agreement was signed as part of the country’s 2025 Energy Security Plan, and the government hopes to produce 9000MW of power by 2025, particularly from hydropower. Much of Angola’s economy and power generation is currently reliant on oil and gas.

Privinvest, along with its subsidiaries Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN) and Hydroquest, are designing and producing special turbines for use along rivers and in the sea. Angola’s state power company Prodel will set up a partnership with Privinvest to manufacture the hydrokinetc facilities, reported Macauhub.

Borges said, “Angola is one of the world’s greatest untapped potential sources of hydro power. Its abundant waterways will allow, with the introduction of accessible technologies, the development of low cost energy for the rural and remote areas of this vast country. ”

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin today:

POWER: Angola
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.4, Pp.21263B–21264C

ECA / SADC – Energy Crisis Meeting
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.21226B–21226C

POWER: Angola
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.2, Pp.21190A–21192C

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Lesotho – Journalist Shot

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There are increased concerns after an suspected assassination attempt, the latest in a series of incidents.

The Lesotho Times announced on July 11th that its editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, had been shot at his home in Maseru on July 9th by unknown assailants. Despite significant injuries to his face Mutungamiri survived and is recovering in hospital.

The shooting came days after the Lesotho Times reported that its owner, Basildon Peta, had been charged with defamation over an article which criticised the commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli. The article related to an alleged South African Rand (R) 40-million exit plan for Kamoli.

Another Lesotho Times journalist, Keiso Mohloboli, fled the country after stating that she feared for her life, reported the Zimbabwe MailMutungamiri is recovering in a South African hospital after undergoing two major operations to reconstruct his face.

Since Kamoli’s appointment by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in 2015 a number of incidents have taken place; his predecessor Maaparankoe Mahao was assassinated,  opposition figures have been attacked and the army has ignored court orders to release detained soldiers, reported All Africa.

According to the Daily Maverick on July 20th, as a further sign of growing intolerance, national executive member of the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Bokang Ramatšella, made a death threat against the US ambassador. The statement was made on Masokotso on Ts’enolo FM, a private government-aligned radio station.

Newly elected Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili greets masses during the ceremony. 17/03/2015, Elmond Jiyane, DoC

Inauguration of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili – CC 2015

Amnesty International said that authorities in Lesotho must launch an independent and impartial investigation after the attack on the Lesotho Times editor. According to Amnesty the shooting has left journalists fearing for their lives and the authorities have failed to ensure a safe environment.

A joint civil society statement released on July 15th stated, “we call on the Lesotho authorities to take effective measures to protect the right to freedom of expression and the physical safety of all journalists in the country. In addition, the authorities must expeditiously and impartially investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice.”

Lesotho has seen heightened violence since the assassination of former LDF commander Maaparankoe Mahao on June 25th 2015, and the subsequent reinstatement of Kamoli as head of the LDF after elections in February 28th 2015, caused by a coup attempt launched by Kamoli on August 30th 2014, against then-prime minister Thomas Thabane.

Most opposition leaders, including Thabane, are living in exile in South Africa and refuse to return while Kamoli remains head of the LDF, reported South African news service IOL

Amnesty International has also urged that an investigation into the death of Mahao is thorough and pursued without delay. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said, “the soldiers who shot Maaparankoe Mahao are known by the senior army commanders of the LDF. Authorities must ensure that the criminal investigation is thorough, effective and impartial and identifies those with criminal responsibility for his killing.”

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Lesotho – Defence Chief Shot Dead
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.6, Pp.20613A

LESOTHO: Post-Coup Attempt Poll
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.3, Pp.20492A–20493A

LESOTHO: Military Deny Coup Attempt
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.8, Pp.20248B–20249A

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Liberia – Land Rights Concern

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Analysts suggest that the decision not to uphold the Land Rights Act could spark a return to civil war in the country.

The draft Land Rights Act, which had been proposed in 2014, was intended to uphold customary rights to land for rural communities. Since its submission people have been concerned about the lack of progress and it is likely to be delayed further according to the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Working Group on Land Rights in Liberia.

Over two million people in Liberia, more than half of the population, live on customary land, without legal recognition. It was largely disputes over land under customary tenure that catalysed 14 years of civil wars and led to many deaths.

An estimated 90 percent of Liberia’s civil court cases are related to land and as many as 63 percent of violent conflicts in Liberia are rooted in land rights issues, reported Reuters.

In 2003, following a second civil war, the government pushed on with policies for leasing lands to foreign companies, with oil palm plantations identified as a central strategy by the World Bank, to turn the country into a desirable investment destination.

The group of CSOs, however, stated that concessions to mining, logging and agriculture, that cover around 40% of the country, pay little consideration to local people. According to the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), of 237 mining and agricultural concessions in the country, all had established communities living within them.

“If its (Liberia’s) leaders try to fuel development by selling off community lands to the highest bidder, the price will once again be instability and conflict,” said Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Director for Africa at the RRI, reported Reuters.

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The coalition of 18 CSOs issued a statement which read, “if the legislature does not pass the 2014 version of the Land Rights Act before its recess in August, it will likely be delayed until after the elections; a new government takes office in 2018, leaving the legislation in limbo indefinitely.”

They added that the Act has not been made public leading to suspicions that key provisions have been removed, in a subversion of hopes for a peaceful future. “Liberia has been hailed as West Africa’s leader in land rights, but time is running out for the legislature to take this crucial step and make good on years of promises to the Liberian people. I fear that if the Act fails to pass, or passes without the key principles safeguarding the rights of communities, the country will slide backwards,” said Bandiaky-Badji, reported the CSO Working Group.

The CSO group also commented that Liberia has the opportunity to lead the way in securing its peoples’ land and forest rights, as well as contributing to sustainable development and climate change mitigation, two goals the leaders of the country have repeatedly pledged to work towards. The CSO Working Group stated that four tenets needed to be included in the Land Rights Act:

1. The formalisation of customary ownership with legal protection the same as individual private ownership.

2. Communities are able to self-define and self-identify their lands and boundaries.

3. Communities are directly responsible for the management of their land and natural resources, and there must be free, prior and informed consent before external investments are made.

4. Customary land rights take precedence over all other proposed uses of land.

Meanwhile on June 30th the United Nations (UN) mission in Liberia, (UNMIL) came to an end, 15 years after 15,000 troops were deployed. Analysts claim that a number of troops will remain and the move is hoped to encourage the ruling party to focus on internal domestic politics, although others have expressed doubt about the ability and willingness of the authorities to deal with the issues, reported the Daily Observer.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

LIBERIA: Security Concerns
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.20935C–20936A

Liberia – Chinese Military Cooperation
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.1, Pp.20439B

LIBERIA: Corruption Charges
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.5, Pp.21278A–21278C

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East Africa – Graft in Rail Investment

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Investigations into fraud and embezzlement are opened in one of Africa’s oldest railways.

An investigation, which has attracted the attention of the World Bank, suggests that Qalaa Holdings, which took over Rift Valley Railways (RVR) intending to revamp the rail link, has been involved in numerous questionable dealings. The World Bank has opened investigations into RVR, which manages the railway from Kampala to Mombasa in Kenya.

For many years one of the most importance rail routes in Africa has suffered neglect and underinvestment, until Qalaa Holdings, one of the biggest African private equity funds, sought to invest in the service.

An investigation by journalists from the UK, Belgium and Kenya under Finance Uncovered has obtained leaked documents and conducted interviews with rail staff. They noted that the company had created an offshore structure of shell companies to extract millions in advisory fees from RVR. The World Banks’ integrity unit has also opened investigations into fraud and embezzlement.

At the same time a parallel railway line, built by the Chinese, is set to open soon, which will be more efficient that the older line and is expected to absorb customers and profits, hampering more RVR’s already bad financial situation.

The British started the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1896, intended to secure Lake Victoria from German, Belgian and French colonial expansion. It later became known as the ‘Lunatic Express’ after many thousands died and millions were spent on its construction.

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Tororo, Uganda – CC 2010

In 2010 Qalaa Holdings, an Egypt based fund, took over through an offshore holding, Ambiance Ventures. In the subsequent year the company managed to secure US$287m in investments from a number of sources including the World Bank ($22m), the African Development Bank (AfDB) ($40m), and a number of others.

One central investment has been in new rolling stock, for which $63m was allocated for 20 “brand new” locomotives. However the journalists discovered that no new locomotives were purchased at all, instead they were purchased second-hand and refurbished from US-based National Railway Equipment Company (NREC). In total 20 locomotives were received for $20m rather than the stipulated $63m.

Regarding freight services, Chief Executive of the Kenya Ships Agents Association Juma Ali Tellah has said that many distributors have lost faith in the railways’ ability to transport containers; a blow as much of the railway’s income comes from freight.

“There are too many delays both in the port and during transportation…the skippers never know when their containers will reach destination. It’s not surprising that only a fraction of freight is transported by rail,” Tellah said.

Even though it currently has a monopoly, RVR has struggled to make profits under Qalaa’s management; in 2014 it reported losses of $1.5m. Despite not making a profit Qalaa has collected $4.7m of advisory fees from Africa Railways Limited, the investment vehicle of RVR registered in the British Virgin Islands. The firm has also paid very little corporation tax, and despite getting millions from state-backed development banks, many of its investments are managed through these offshore shell companies; while these corporate structures are not illegal, the investment will not fully benefit the home countries.

(The Observer, Kampala 22/6)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

ROADS AND RAILWAYS: East Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.5, Pp.21292B–21293C

ROADS AND RAILWAYS: Rwanda – Tanzania
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.4, Pp.21255A–21255C

ROADS AND RAILWAYS: Kenya
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.12, Pp.21112A–21112C

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Western Sahara – Death of Polisario Chief

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As the longstanding leader of the disputed territory dies, the Sahrawi people continue to face an uncertain future.

The leader of the Western Sahara independence movement Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz, died of lung cancer aged 68 on May 31st, after spending four days in a coma, and was buried on June 4th in the disputed territory.

Abdelaziz had spent more than 40 years fighting for independence. His coffin was draped with the flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which was proclaimed by Polisario Front in 1976.

The Moroccan authorities consider the Western Saharan to be its “southern provinces” but many other countries, including Moroccan neighbour Algeria, recognise the SADR. Morocco is also the only African country not to be a member of the African Union (AU), while the SADR has been a full member for a number of years, reported BBC News.

Abdelaziz served as secretary-general for the group through many decades of independence struggle. He was born in 1948 in Smara, Western Sahara, and was from the Reguibi, one of three Sahrawi tribes. Reports said that he was educated in the south of Morocco and his father was in the Royal Moroccan Army.

Abdelaziz reportedly became acquainted with Sahrawi nationalist militants at Moroccan universities and in May 1973 became a founding member of the Polisario Front along with Mustapha Sayed El Ouali.

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Sahrawi Refugee Camp – CC 2012

The Algerian government is the main backer of the Polisario Front, and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was one of those to pay tribute to Abdelaziz, and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika decreed eight days of mourning after his death.

According to Al Monitor, in a refugee camp in Boujdour, where Abdelaziz had lived, many people came into the streets wailing when they heard the news. United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also expressed his sadness at the death of the leader, reported the UN News Centre.

However earlier in April Morocco had expelled most UN staff from the territory after Ban Ki Moon referred to the situation as an “occupation” At the same time there had been reports on the possibility of violence if there was not a deadline set for self-determination, reported the Washington Post.

Abdelaziz’s successor is expected to be announced within the next 40 days and in the interim the President of the Sahrawi National Council, Khatri Addouh, is to lead the group according to Polisario sources.

The dispute is a complex issue; in the Huffington Post, Professor of Political Science from Oklahoma University, Mohamed Daadaoui, writes that the framing of the conflict in terms of a colonial occupation force has discredited some of the historical and cultural links between the two regions. The regional rivalry between Morocco and Algeria has also fuelled tensions.

Discussing theoretical notions of self-determination throws to light questions of who is actually to be involved in deciding the regions future, Daadaoui states. The boundaries of the region are themselves a colonial construction which have little bearing on the movements of nomadic tribes.

Whatever the developments as the Polisario Front elects an new leader, the Sahrawi people themselves, especially many of those in Algerian refugee camps – numbers that the Polisario Front puts at 160,000 and the Moroccan regime at 50,000 – should remain the central concern of negotiations.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

ALGERIA, MOROCCO – WESTERN SAHARA / UN: Row Over Disputed Territory Status
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.20917A–20918A

ALGERIA – MOROCCO: Bone of Contention
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20342A

ALGERIA – MOROCCO: Border Shooting

Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.10, Pp.20305A–20306A

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