Daily Archives: March 3, 2020

Soldiers Occupy Guinea-Bissau Supreme Court Grounds, Judges Say

BISSAU, GUINEA BISSAU – A dozen soldiers have occupied the grounds of Guinea-Bissau’s Supreme Court, the court said Tuesday, deepening a post-election crisis that has resulted in the appointment of rival presidents and the silencing of state media.

The West African country’s military, which has regularly intervened in politics in recent decades, vowed to remain neutral ahead of the December election. But the presence last week of senior army officials at the contentious inauguration of Umaro Cissoko Embalo as president appeared to signal it had picked a side.

The electoral commission has repeatedly confirmed Embalo as the winner of the December 29 runoff despite complaints by the Supreme Court and the declared runner-up that the commission had not respected the court’s orders to conduct a full audit of the vote.

On Monday, soldiers occupied the Supreme Court’s grounds in Bissau, the capital, blocking entry to judges and officials, court spokesman Salimo Vieira told Reuters.

“The soldiers are still refusing entry to the Supreme Court, which cannot function,” he said, adding that other courts had also been occupied by the military.

State media silent

State radio has been silent and the state television channel has shown only a blank screen since Saturday. Streets in Bissau have remained quiet.

An Embalo representative, Bamba Cote, said Embalo had asked the army chief of staff for troops to occupy “public institutions as well as radio and TV stations in order to enable the formation of the new cabinet and its installation in the state institutions.”

The soldiers will return to their barracks on Wednesday or Thursday, Cote told Reuters.

Domingos Simoes Pereira, candidate of the majority party in parliament and shown by the official results as losing the runoff to Embalo, has denounced his rival’s inauguration as a coup.

In the ongoing standoff, Pereira’s allies in parliament had appointed the speaker as a rival interim president after Embalo’s inauguration. The speaker, Cipriano Cassama, withdrew his claim to the presidency on Sunday, citing the risk of civil war.

Multiple coups

Guinea-Bissau has witnessed nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974, most recently in 2012 when an election was abandoned after soldiers stormed the presidential palace.

In a statement Sunday, West African regional bloc ECOWAS said Embalo’s inauguration had taken place “outside legal and constitutional frameworks” and warned about “the interference of the defense and security forces in the political sphere.”

The December election was meant to end five years of institutional chaos in which then-President Jose Mario Vaz cycled through seven different prime ministers during a series of political disputes.

“The military seem to be trying to give the final word on things,” said analyst Vincent Foucher of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “It’s clear whose side the army is on.”

Source: Voice of America

Trump Calls Egyptian Leader to Discuss Nile Dam

WHITE HOUSE – U.S. President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke on Tuesday to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), after U.S.-brokered talks on the Nile mega dam fell apart last week.

The White House in a statement Tuesday said that President Trump expressed hope that an agreement on the dam would be finalized soon and benefit all parties involved.

Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said on Tuesday that Ethiopia would continue talks but warned Washington not to rush the process or try to influence the outcome.

I think it is best if America works to support the negotiations so that the parties resolve the remaining issues, Andargachew said to VOA Amharic.

Last week Ethiopia rejected a U.S.-brokered draft agreement.

Ethiopia said it would commence first filling of the dam’s reservoir, despite months of talks with Egypt and Sudan hosted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Downstream country Egypt fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten its source of fresh water.

The country said it did not accept the U.S. “characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD is completed.

Last Wednesday it walked out of what was supposed to be the final round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington.

At the end of the talks, Egypt issued its own statement saying it had initialed the agreement, calling it “fair and balanced” and in “the common interest of the three countries.

The United States seems to be putting its thumb on the scale in favor of Egypt, said David Shinn, adjunct professor of international affairs at the George Washington University and former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia.

Shinn said it’s not clear what the United States is trying to achieve beyond Trump’s statement that he wants a quick solution to the problem. Perhaps it is time to make the agreement public so that everyone can see what the United States is proposing, Shinn said.

Given Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the terms of the of the agreement, the Trump administration has no option but to bow out and make room for another impartial mediator, said Addisu Lashitew, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Lashitew accused the administration of not fully understanding the mess it has created by complicating a delicate negotiation process that was already tense.

In a matter of weeks the U.S. has squandered the goodwill that it has developed with Ethiopia through decades-long engagement, Lashitew said.

The next steps in negotiations are unclear.

It’s now a matter of political will, said Aaron Salzberg, director of The Water Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

If the parties want to reach an agreement, they will work through the remaining differences � with or without the United States, Salzberg added.

Source: Voice of America

Trump Calls Egyptian Leader to Discuss Nile Dam

WHITE HOUSE – U.S. President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke on Tuesday to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), after U.S.-brokered talks on the Nile mega dam fell apart last week.

The White House in a statement Tuesday said that President Trump expressed hope that an agreement on the dam would be finalized soon and benefit all parties involved.

Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said on Tuesday that Ethiopia would continue talks but warned Washington not to rush the process or try to influence the outcome.

I think it is best if America works to support the negotiations so that the parties resolve the remaining issues, Andargachew said to VOA Amharic.

Last week Ethiopia rejected a U.S.-brokered draft agreement.

Ethiopia said it would commence first filling of the dam’s reservoir, despite months of talks with Egypt and Sudan hosted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Downstream country Egypt fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten its source of fresh water.

The country said it did not accept the U.S. “characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD is completed.

Last Wednesday it walked out of what was supposed to be the final round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington.

At the end of the talks, Egypt issued its own statement saying it had initialed the agreement, calling it “fair and balanced” and in “the common interest of the three countries.

The United States seems to be putting its thumb on the scale in favor of Egypt, said David Shinn, adjunct professor of international affairs at the George Washington University and former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia.

Shinn said it’s not clear what the United States is trying to achieve beyond Trump’s statement that he wants a quick solution to the problem. Perhaps it is time to make the agreement public so that everyone can see what the United States is proposing, Shinn said.

Given Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the terms of the of the agreement, the Trump administration has no option but to bow out and make room for another impartial mediator, said Addisu Lashitew, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Lashitew accused the administration of not fully understanding the mess it has created by complicating a delicate negotiation process that was already tense.

In a matter of weeks the U.S. has squandered the goodwill that it has developed with Ethiopia through decades-long engagement, Lashitew said.

The next steps in negotiations are unclear.

It’s now a matter of political will, said Aaron Salzberg, director of The Water Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

If the parties want to reach an agreement, they will work through the remaining differences � with or without the United States, Salzberg added.

Source: Voice of America

The EurAfrican Forum in search for a common ground between Europe and Africa

The 3rd edition of the EurAfrican Forum (www.EurAfricanForum.org) to be held on July 2nd and 3rd in Cascais, Portugal will be gathering over 700 European and African key actors from more than 60 countries; 2020 edition will look for new opportunities for both continents as it unveils its theme In Search for a Common Ground; The program will focus on key topics as Africa and Europe relations, Free Trade Agreements, Climate Change, African Arts and Culture, Infrastructure, Connectivity and Off-grid solutions.

The annual meeting will gather over 700 African and European changemakers such as entrepreneurs, artists, activists, public and private decision leaders, in Cascais, Portugal, on July 2nd and 3rd 2020.

It is now time to establish a structured cooperation between Africa and Europe, engaging not only public decision makers but creating a denser network, embarking in the discussions entrepreneurs, young people, women, artists, scientists…rdquo; Joseacute; Manuel Duratilde;o Barroso, Chairman of the EurAfrican Forum.

Hosted by the Portuguese Diaspora Council and the Municipality of Cascais, with the High Patronage of the Portuguese Presidency, this third consecutive edition will focus on main issues such Africa and Europe relations, Free Trade Agreements, Climate Change, the influence of African Arts and Culture, Infrastructure, Connectivity and Off-grid solutions, under the theme In Search for a Common Ground.

2020 is a pivotal year for Europe and Africa as this new decade marks the unavoidable collaboration between our continents at a time when climate change, demographic challenges and the technologic revolution are central pieces of Africa and Europe’s sustainable development puzzlerdquo;, said Filipe de Botton, Chairman of the Board of the Portuguese Diaspora Council.

As Europe and Africa face common challenges, the EurAfrican Forum exists as a platform to work on future partnerships for sustainable solutions. Exploiting synergies and promoting business opportunities with mutual benefits, the event will be sharing initiatives, in search for a common ground.

Source: EurAfrican Forum.