News and Views on Africa from Africa
Last update: 1 July 2022 h. 10:44
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United Nations Under-Secretary for Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, held talks in the US early this month with a senior UNITA official in an attempt to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table, diplomatic sources have confirmed to IRIN. Gambari returned to New York after a week of intense talks in Angola in December with government, UNITA and civil society representatives. He subsequently told the Security Council during a briefing that a "window of opportunity" existed in Angolan to end the almost 30-year-old war between UNITA and the government. He said the two had agreed to resume peace talks, on condition that certain aspects of the tattered 1994 Lusaka Peace Protocol could be renegotiated. The parties also wanted the church to play a facilitating role in the discussions, and had not objected to all sectors of civil society participating. (Source: IRIN)


Sudan has opened its seaport to Ethiopia for transporting goods and oil into the landlocked country. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi flew into Sudan on January 8 to inaugurate the opening of the port facilities and a duty-free zone. The move is a significant breakthrough for Ethiopia, which had been relying on Eritrea’s Red Sea ports until their border war broke out in May 1998. Ethiopia then turned to Djibouti, but merchants complained about the price hikes on shipping freight through Djibouti. Prime Minister Meles praised the cooperation between Ethiopia and Sudan, adding that the two countries had created a "conducive atmosphere" for improving economic relations. The two countries signed agreements for Ethiopia's use of the port, and a new road is planned through the eastern Sudanese town of Gedaref. (Source: Addis Tribune). International Ebola experts have been temporarily relocated from an area in northern Gabon because of hostility from villagers, humanitarian agencies reported. The team has been working to contain an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Gabon and neighbouring Republic of Congo. Red Cross officials said it was moved from Mekambo to Makokou, both in northern Gabon, because of hostility that arose over attempts to stop traditional burial rites, such as washing the bodies of the dead, in order to curb the spread of the disease. The Red Cross and WHO said efforts were being made to enable the experts to return to Mekambo. (Source: IRIN)


Gambians go to the polls on 17 January to elect their legislators but the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) is boycotting the election, saying it will be “severely flawed”, an accusation denied by the Independent Electoral Commission. President Yahya Jammeh's Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction will run unopposed in 33 out of 48 constituencies. In the other 15, it faces two smaller parties. Jammeh nominates five other legislators to the 53-member parliament. (Source: IRIN)


More than 200 people from at least two villages in Malawi's southern Chikwawa district have fled their homes following rains in the first weej of January. The low-lying region, surrounded by highlands, is a flood plain and its people have been repeatedly displaced by flooding for the past two years. World Food Programme (WFP) officer-in-charge Ayoub Al-Jaloudi told IRIN on Thursday that an assessment team was already in the district and would draft recommendations for any necessary interventions. He said the exact impact of the flooding was not yet clear. The rains are certain to impact further on food insecurity in the district, with Malawi already in the grip of severe maize shortages. It has also led to fear of a cholera outbreak. News reports on Friday 4 January said about 60 people had died from the water-borne disease in the past two months. (Source: IRIN)


A United Nations team was due to visit Somalia mid this month to make a comprehensive security assessment in the country as the UN looks to increase its engagement there, according to a press statement released by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator's office on Wednesday. During the visit, from 15 to 24 January, the seven-member team "will travel to as many parts of Somalia as are accessible, and speak with as many authorities as possible" with a view to obtaining a broad picture of current security conditions. "There have been some positive political developments, resulting in increasing stability in various areas of the country", the statement said. This had prompted the UN system to focus on how UN staff could continue or increase their level of commitment, given Somalia's political and military dynamics. (Source: IRIN)


An appeal judge in Lome on January 10 overturned a decision by a lower court that had sentenced Togolese opposition leader Yaovi Agboyibo to six months in prison. Agboyibo had been sued for libel by Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo. The appeal court disallowed the conviction because Kodjo had not paid the sum of 20,000 CFA francs which, by law, a plaintiff is required to pay on filing a suit. Although Agboyibo's lawyers had invoked the same argument at the initial trial, the lower court had ruled against him on 3 August 2001. Kodjo had sued Agboyibo for alleging that, before becoming prime minister, he had formed a militia which beat and killed opposition supporters in Yoto, the region from which both men originate. (Source: AFP).


Zambia's third president Levy Mwanawasa of the ruling Movement of Multiparty Democracy (MMD) was sworn in on January 3 in a low key ceremony marked by sporadic anti-government protests, an opposition electoral petition and a growing rift between the government and western donors. Chief Justice Mathew Ngulube swore in Mwanawasa - who scooped 28.6 percent of 1.75 million votes cast - in a ceremony characterised by tight security and the conspicuous absence of the six regional heads of state who had been invited to attend. The government invited the leaders of South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mauritius, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Swaziland to grace the occasion. None of them showed up. Only the DRC, Malawi and Zimbabwe sent government ministers to represent their heads of state. (Source: Agencies)
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