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EU confirms support to Horn of Africa ahead of high-level visit of international organizations to the region

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Horn_of_africaToday (27 October), the EU has confirmed that it will support the wider region of the Horn of Africa with a total of €3 billion until 2020. The announcement comes ahead of a visit to the region by Deputy Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate for Development and Cooperation Marcus Cornaro, and European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Alexander Rondos.

They will participate in a joint high-level mission of international organisations that includes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Islamic Development Bank President Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani and African Union Commission Deputy Chairman Erastus Mwencha.

The trip will take the development leaders to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia, where they will meet heads of state and governments as well as ministers and representatives of civil society, among others, to discuss challenges and future co-operation in the region.

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Prior to the trip, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: "The EU stands ready to further deepen its long-standing partnership with the Horn of Africa – helping to build robust and accountable political structures, enhancing trade and economic co-operation, financing peace keeping activities and providing humanitarian assistance and development co-operation. Our support will help the people of the Greater Horn on their path to much needed peace, stability, resilience and growth.

The EU is a key political and economic partner of the countries in the Horn of Africa. This close relationship is reflected in the EU's 2011 Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa focusing on:

  1. Wide-ranging political dialogue;

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  2. trade, regional integration and economic co-operation;

  3. crisis response and crisis management, including financing of peace keeping missions and initiatives, and;

  4. development partnerships

The comprehensive approach of the EU covers for instance support to better connections between countries within the Horn of Africa region (e.g. transport, energy); support to the state building process in Somalia and the African peace keeping force AMISOM, as well as training of Somali security forces; fighting piracy in the Western Indian Ocean through an EU naval force (EU NAVFOR – Atalanta).

The €3bn EU support in development cooperation to the countries of the Horn will principally come from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). The largest share of this will be channelled through bilateral funding to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya; parts will also go to regional organizations.

EU programmes will focus on the main development challenges to be addressed in order to unlock the region's potential. The EU is assisting in the building of robust and accountable political structures, working to resolve conflicts, increasing the region's ability to prevent and deal with drought and famine, and promoting economic growth that will reduce poverty.

Bilateral EDF support 2014-2020 for the countries visited during this trip amounts to:

  1. Ethiopia €745 million

  2. Somalia €286m

  3. Djibouti €105m

  4. Kenya €435m

The EU is also a significant trading partner with the countries of the Horn. In 2013 total exports from the EU amounted to €4.8bn, and imports to €2.3bn.

The EU has also provided over €1 billion in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa since 2011, responding to an acute and protracted displacement crisis as well as the recurrent food and nutrition crisis.

More information

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG
Website of the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs
Website of the European External Action Service

Africa

Climate change raises the stakes in Libya’s crisis

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Libya has been in crisis for ten years, and with each passing year, the stakes for the West grow higher. Besides the humanitarian tragedy that has ravaged the country and its people, the stakes in the battle for Libya’s future are higher than is usually assumed. Pundits often raise the threat that the deployment of Russian missiles to Libya would pose, both to NATO and the European Union. Libya’s close proximity to the shores of Italy and Greece and dominating position at the heart of the Mediterranean make it a valuable strategic prize for the power that can exercise influence over it. Yet Libya’s position at the heart of the Mediterranean comes with another concern, which will grow over the course of coming years, writes Jay Mens.

Whoever controls Libya will exercise a significant degree of control over flows of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. European officials have already expressed concern about this, and through joint naval operations the Union has moved to try and stem the tide of illegal migration into the Union. Those making their way through Libya include refugees fleeing violence in Afghanistan and Syria, refugees fleeing war in Syria, some of Libya’s over 270,000 internally displaced persons, and increasing numbers of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, moving northwards in search of better lives. The experience of refugees fleeing conflict is a human tragedy, and migrants searching for better lives is a fact of human history. Yet beyond these human stories, the wider phenomenon of mass migration is being transformed into a weapon by those who hope to harm Europe or to hold it hostage.

The use of mass migration as a geopolitical tool has a long history. Recent research by the political scientist Kelly Greenhill suggests there have been 56 such instances in the last seventy years alone. In 1972, Idi Amin expelled the entire Asian population of Uganda, including 80,000 British passport-holders, as a punishment for Britain’s withdrawal of aid and assistance. In 1994, Fidel Castro’s Cuba threatened the United States with waves of migrants in the wake of massive civil unrest. In 2011, none other than Libya’s late dictator Muammar Gadhaffi threatened the European Union, warning that if it kept supporting protesters, “Europe will be facing a human flood from North Africa”. In 2016, the Turkish government threatened to allow the nearly four million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey to the European Union if the EU did not pay it. When the dispute erupted, Turkey allowed, and in some cases forced migrants into Eastern Europe, exacerbating already-high tensions within the Union on the thorny question of immigration. Libya is the next hotspot for these debates.

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Libya’s proximity to Europe makes it a key hotspot for migrants. Its shores are an estimated 16 hours by boat from the islands of Lampedusa and Crete, and roughly a day from the Greek mainland. For this region, Libya has become a major node for migration from across the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. From West Africa, one route passes through in Agadez in Niger, going northward to the oasis of Sabha in Libya's Fezzan. Another proceeds from in Gao in Mali, into Algeria past Tamranasset into Libya. From East Africa, Khartoum in Sudan is the central meeting point, heading into Libya from its south-East. As of March 2020, Libya hosted an estimated 635,000 migrants from across the Middle East and Africa, in addition to nearly 50,000 refugees of its own.

Today, Libya is split into roughly two parts. Libya’s problem is not a power vacuum, but the control of the country by powers subordinate to foreign interests seeking leverage over Europe. Since March, Libya has been ruled by a tenuous Government of National Unity, which on paper, has reunited its disparate East and West. Yet it is struggling to act as a government and certainly lacks any monopoly of force over most of the country. To the East, the Libyan National Army remains the main driving force and across the country, tribal and ethnic militias continue to act with impunity. Moreover, Libya is still home to a significant contingent of foreign troops and mercenaries. Among many others, the two most powerful foreign actors in Libya’s East and West-- Russia and Turkey respectively-- continue to dominate on the ground. Neither party seems willing to back down, meaning that the country will remain at an impasse; or, that it will continue its seemingly inexorable shuffle towards partition. Neither outcome is desirable.

Both Russia and Turkey have threatened the EU with waves of migration. If Libya remains at an impasse, they can continue to use Libya, a key node for Middle Eastern and African migration, as a spigot, keeping their fingers on the union’s most sensitive pressure point. This concern will only grow in magnitude as the populations of the Middle East and Africa grow at rates far exceeding the rest of the world. Climate change is creating more incentives for mass migration. Drought, wildfires, famines, water shortages, and diminishing amounts of arable land are becoming endemic problems in both Africa and the Middle East. Paired with political instability and weak governance, northward migration is set to become not just an annual event, but a constant and growing pressure to the unity and future of the European Union. If Russia and Turkey have effective or shared control in Libya, there is no doubt that they will use this fact-- and use Libya-- to threaten and undermine the European Union. This need not be the case.

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Libya’s political crisis stems from the absence of a social contract that can unify the country, equally distribute resources, and provide a model of governance that transcends the provincial needs and caters to a national constituency. Libyan unity, and the resolution of Libya’s crisis, is very much a European interest. To date, efforts to provide Libya with a constitution that can provide it with a social contract have been postponed. This postpones the reconstruction of a unified Libyan state, capable of enacting its own policy and partnering with the EU on key issues such as migration. The EU must urgently support efforts to draft a Libyan constitution that supports this outcome. This does not require a military or political intervention but playing to Europe’s natural aptitude for all things legal.

Ideas already abound for Libya’s future constitution may already look. Brussels should be a forum for discussing them, and its legal talents should devote time and attention to working out a constitutional solution that can solve Libya’s problems. By ensuring that Libya can remain unified and independent of the burden of foreign pressure, Europe would be acting in the long-term interest of its unity and independence. As the only actor for which the independence and unity of Libya is truly tied to its own, it has a responsibility and an enormous incentive to act.

Jay Mens is executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Forum, a think tank based at the University of Cambridge, and a research analyst for Greenmantle, a macroeconomic advisory firm.

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Africa

France accused of 'still controlling' some of its former colonies in Africa

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France has been accused of “clandestinely exercising control” over francophone African countries since they formally obtained freedom.

The French colonial encounter in West Africa was driven by commercial interests and, perhaps to a lesser degree, a civilizing mission.

By the close of the Second World War the colonized peoples of French West Africa were making their dissatisfaction with the colonial system heard.

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As of 2021, France still retains the largest military presence in Africa of any former colonial power.

France maintains a tight stranglehold in Francophone Africa, both to serve its interests and maintain a last bastion of imperial prestige.

France is accused of forcing African countries to give preference to French interests and companies in the field of public procurement and public biding.

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It is argued that one such example of where France is said to be still exercising an unhealthy control in Africa is Mali which fell under French colonial rule in 1892 but became fully independent in 1960.

France and Mali still have a strong connection. Both are members of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and there are over 120,000 Malians in France.

But, it has argued that current events in Mali have once again put the spotlight on the often turbulent relationship between the two countries.

After all its recent turbulence, Mali, currently led by a new interim leader, is only now just starting to get back on its feet again, albeit very slowly.

However, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN and the African Union - and especially France -  appear to be in no hurry to recognise Assimi Goita, the former interim Vice-President and current transitional leader of Mali, as a legitimate candidate for upcoming presidential elections despite a decision apparently to the contrary by Mali’s Constitutional Court.

The French media have often called Colonel Goita as "the boss of the junta", and "the head of the military junta" and French President Emmanuel Macron described the May coup, which Goita led, as a "coup within a coup”.

Tensions between the two countries intensified when Mali recently summoned France’s ambassador to the country to register its “indignation” at President Macron’s recent criticism of the country’s government.

This came after President Macron suggested that Mali’s government was “not even really one” – because of the Goita-led coup in Mali in May. The war of words continued when President Macron called on Mali’s ruling military to restore state authority in large areas of the country which he said had been abandoned in the face of the armed uprising.

Colonel Goita installed a civilian-led interim government after the first coup in August last year. But he then deposed the leaders of that government this May in a second coup.

This also comes against a backdrop of violence in the Sahel, a band of arid land that borders the south edge of the Sahara Desert, that has intensified in recent years despite the presence of thousands of UN, regional and Western troops.

The current political changes in Mali have attracted much international attention.But, according to Fernando Cabrita questions of a different kind also need addressing.

Fernando Cabrita is a Portuguese lawyer, expert in international law, co-founder of the SOCIEDADE DE ADVOGADOS law firm. Fernando Cabrita has been writing for several regional, national and foreign newspapers and has a wide experience in international civil law.

He argues that these include asking what is the future of the country in terms of peace and security, what political decisions will strengthen the position of Mali in general and the position of its current interim leader in particular.

In an interview with this website, Cabrita gave his assessment on recent events in the West African country, particularly from the judicial view point.

He recalls, that in May 2021, the Malian transitional president, Bah Ndaw, and his prime minister, Moctar Ouane, were arrested by members of the armed forces, as Goita, then vice-president, suspected them of sabotaging the transitional process (allegedly under French influence).

Bah Ndaw and Moctar Ouane resigned, and the power shifted to Goita, a young Malian leader, who shares what is seen as strong anti-French sentiment that has been rising in Mali for some long time.

Cabrita says such a change in Mali’s political landscape is seen as “disagreeable” to France, the long-standing “partner” of Mali and its former colonial master.

He claims, “France has been clandestinely exercising control over francophone African countries since they formally obtained freedom”.

He cites France’s Operation Barkhane as a means for Paris to maintain “a significant military force” in the region.

In June, Paris began re-organising its forces deployed in the Sahel under Operation Barkhane, including by pulling out of its northernmost bases in Mali at Kidal, Timbuctu and Tessalit.Total numbers in the region are to be cut from 5,000 today to between 2,500 and 3,000 by 2023.

Cabrita says that now that Barkhane is being turned into a smaller mission, Paris is “desperate to solidify its influence through political means.”

Using the media, he says some Western countries, led by France, have tried to water down the political power of Colonel Goïta by portraying him an “illegitimate”, or unqualified, leader.

However, according to Cabrita, such attacks are groundless.

He says the Transitional Charter, signed in September 2020, that, says Cabrita, is often used to undermine Goita’s credentials, “cannot be recognised as a document with any legal force as it was adopted with a number of serious irregularities.”

He said, “The charter contravenes Mali’s constitution and it was not ratified through appropriate instruments. As such it is the decisions taken by the constitutional court that should take precedence above all others.”

On May 28, 2021, the Constitutional Court of Mali declared Colonel Goïta as the head of State and President of the transitional period, making him the leader of the country de jure.

Another factor that supports Goita’s legitimacy, says Cabrita, is the fact that the national community and international players recognise him (Goita) as the representative of Mali.

According to the recent opinion polls, Goita’s ratings among Mali’s public are rising upwards, with people approving of his determination to end the current violence in the country and deliver democratic elections in accordance with the agreed timetable.

Cabrita states, “Goita’s popularity among the people make him the most appropriate candidate for the position of the president of the country.”

But will Goita be eligible to take part in the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for February? Cabrita insists that he should be allowed to stand.

“Even though the Article 9 of the Charter prohibits the President of the Transitional period and the Deputy from participating in Presidential and parliamentary elections to be held during the end of the transitional period, the invalidity of this document and its internal contradictions leave all the important decisions to the Constitutional court. 

“Due to the fact that the Transitional Charter is an unconstitutional document, its provisions cannot restrict anyone's civil rights, including Goita.”

Mali’s Constitution, which dates to 199 and continues to be applied in the country, defines the procedures, conditions and nomination of candidates for presidential elections.

Cabrita added, “Article 31 of the constitution states that each candidate for the post of President of the Republic must be a Malian citizen by origin and also be granted all his or hers civil and political rights. So, on the basis of this (that is, the constitution), Goïta has the right to stand as a candidate for the presidential elections in Mali.

“If he is allowed to stand for President it will mark the start of a new chapter for all francophone African countries, not just Mali.”

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Libya

Reflections on the failures of Libyan talks at Geneva and beyond

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Libyans must themselves work to restore the long-lost unity of our nation. External solutions will only exacerbate our country’s already precarious state. It is time to end the series of failures that has plagued the collapse of talks and return the Libyan homeland to a state of legitimacy, writes Shukri Al-Sinki.

The demand to return Libya to constitutional legitimacy as it was last enjoyed in the country in 1969 is a genuine right of the nation. It is a plight to recover a stolen system of guaranteed rights and not the battle of an individual to reclaim his throne. Returning to constitutional legitimacy means returning to the state of affairs that Libyans enjoyed before 1969’s coup d’etat. The idea itself is not novel. The desire of Libyans to return to its original constitution and with it, restore the monarchy, was first introduced at a conference in 1992 in London, attended by representatives of the international press as well as several high-profile political personalities.

In line with the wish of the people, Prince Muhammad, the crown prince residing in London, has not publicized himself, nor will he appear as an aspirant to the throne until the conflicting factions of Libyan society agree to a compromise. Only the people can proclaim him a legitimate ruler. This is the legacy of the Senussi family, which Prince Muhammad has pledged to honor. The source of the family’s strength is precisely in the fact that it stands at an equal distance from all parties in Libya, in a neutral position. This is the kind of leadership that Libyans can seek refuge in should conflict intensify.

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“I know, my son, that our Senussi family does not belong to a single tribe, group or party, but to all Libyans. Our family was and will remain a large tent that all men and women in Libya can seek shelter under. If God and your people choose you, then I want you to serve as a king for all the people. You will have to rule with justice and equity, and be of assistance to everyone. You will also have to be the sword of the country when in need, and defend our homeland and the lands of Islam. Respect all local and international covenants.”

The time has come for Libya to recover after a prolonged period of hardship. The real solution to all of our existing divisions, wars and conflicts lies in a nationwide project deriving its legitimacy from the legacy that our founding fathers left behind. Independent from external pressures and internally imposed plans of the few, we must work together to restore legitimacy itself.

We have to come to terms with the fact that warring parties will not give in to each other’s requests out of their own volition, and will likely continue to battle. This threatens the entirety of our homeland’s existence. Perhaps a more easily acceptable and non-partisan leader, who is free of tribal and regional affiliations, could offer the remedy. A person of good standing and moral values who descends from a family chosen by God Himself. A family of both religious and reformist legacy whose forefather, King Idris, achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of Libya: our country’s independence. The Al-Senussi heritage is one of nationalism and fighting for the people.

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We must overcome the ones who meddle with the future of Libya in the hope of putting their hands on our national resources, deriving personal benefit, or hoping to favor foreign agendas and impose authoritarian means of governance. We have to reject the further prolongation of the transitional period lest we risk inviting more opportunities for disputes and bring unwarranted danger back to Libya. We have had enough of wasting the country’s resources as well as the people’s time. We have had enough of taking on additional risks. We have had enough of walking down an unknown path. We have a constitutional heritage within our grasp, which we could call on any time. Let us call on it, let us invite our legitimate leader back, and let us pledge allegiance to a united Libya.

Shukri El-Sunki is a widely published Libya based writer and researcher. He is the author of four books, his most recent being Conscience of a Homeland (Maktaba al-Koun, 2021,) which chronicles the stories of Libyan heroes who faced and resisted the tyranny of the Gadhaffi regime.

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