Category Archives: Africa – International

Africa and ICC – who will get court presidency?

What will Africa make of its opportunity to lead the ICC?
30 July 2014

Amid the debate on the increasingly tenuous relationship between the African Union (AU) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), 2014 presents a rare opportunity for Africa to take leadership of the main bodies established by the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Already, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, is Gambian. It is possible that ICC judge and First Vice-President of the Court, Sanji Monageng of Botswana, could be elected as the Court’s president in 2015. If an African is elected as president of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) in December 2014, this would give Africans their best opportunity yet to change the perception of the ICC as ‘anti-Africa’.

Most individuals at the ICC serve in their personal capacity and do not represent their states. However, African leadership in ICC institutions could go a long way in fighting the perception that Africa is a victim of ICC imperialism. The presidency of the ASP is an overtly political office, and the president is directly accountable to his or her state and his or her regional grouping. It is thus no surprise that all presidents of the ASP have at the same time held ambassadorial positions of their respective countries in New York, and that the presidency rotates between different regional groups.

It is important that Africa gets its selection right

The presidency has previously been held by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein of Jordan in the Middle East (who will soon assume the position of High Commissioner for Human Rights), Bruno Stagne Urgato of Costa Rica in Latin America, Christian Wenaweser of Liechtenstein, a member of the Western states group, and currently by Tiina Intelmann of Estonia.

Since the presidency rotates, the next president will now have to come from Africa. Politically, the only circumstance under which the president will not come from Africa is if all three candidates withdrew, and no other African candidate made him or herself available.

Given the political significance of the leadership position, it is important that Africa gets its selection right. There are currently three African candidates for the position, namely Athalia Molokomme of Botswana, Sidiki Kaba of Senegal and Vandi Chidi Minah of Sierra Leone. The normal practice is for the regional group to present a consensus candidate for the election, by acclamation, to the ASP.

Although the ASP elects the president, other regional groups are unlikely to oppose a candidate that enjoys consensus support of African states. Consensus within the African group is not likely to happen before the end of September. If consensus fails, this increases the likelihood of a potentially divisive vote at the ASP and the possibility for other regional groups to determine, based on their own political interests, the next (African) president of the ASP.

One striking feature is that all the candidates are high ranking
Likewise, a controversial candidate – for instance, someone who has previously made disparaging remarks against the ICC – could compel other groups to challenge a consensus candidate presented by Africa.

The qualities required for an ASP president are not listed in the Rome Statute. However, a few desired skills can be surmised from the functions of the presidency, as provided in the Rome Statute, and as performed by previous presidents over the past 12 years.

The president should have sound knowledge of the Rome Statute system and all its constituent documents, and must be able to provide diplomatic support for the Court, including in relation to non-cooperation. Should the AU adopt further non-cooperation decisions, or if an African state engages in acts of non-cooperation, the ASP president would have the responsibility of intervening on behalf of the ICC.

The president should also have the ability to lead the ASP and its bureau by providing guidance and facilitating consensus on complex issues. Very often, strong diplomatic skills are required. Lastly, the president must be aware of the various role players, their interests and policy positions.

Molokomme, who holds a doctorate from Leiden and master’s degree from Yale, is currently Botswana’s Attorney General. She has worked closely on ICC issues since 2009 and, together with the other candidate, Vandi Chidi Minah, has played a key leadership role in Africa’s participation during the ICC Review Conference in Kampala.

She has also participated in AU processes leading up to recent decisions on the ICC. Those who challenge her candidacy may base this on the perception that her views, and those of her government, are anti-African when it comes to the ICC. It will be recalled that Botswana has been the single most vocal supporter of the ICC within the AU; and the loudest critic of the AU decisions.

Vandi Chidi Minah, who holds a master’s degree from London School of Economics, is currently the permanent representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations. He was previously the minister of transport in the government of Sierra Leone, and before that the deputy minister of foreign affairs.

Sierra Leone is currently the chair of the Committee of Ten (C10) of the AU states charged with leading Africa’s bid for the reform of the UN Security Council. This is a particularly burdensome task for the permanent representative of Sierra Leone in New York. Whether Minah would be able to lead the C10 and the ASP at the same time is an important question.

Sidiki Kaba, who holds an LLM degree from Dakar, is currently Minister of Justice and Attorney General in Senegal. Kaba also headed the Senegalese delegation to the Rome Conference in 1998, and he served as the chairman of the International Federation of Human Rights. If elected, Kaba would be the first francophone president of the ASP. An important consideration in Kaba’s candidature is whether he would relinquish his position as Minister of Justice in favour of the ASP presidency. Whether an individual could effectively manage the functions of both offices is a significant consideration.

Although Kaba was endorsed by the AU Summit in July, experience shows that AU endorsement is never decisive. It appears that notwithstanding the endorsement, consultations in New York are ongoing.

One striking feature of all candidates is that they are all high ranking. This shows the importance that African states parties attach to the ICC. It could also suggest a desire by African states to exercise greater political control over the ICC.

The individual candidates, however, have over the years showed leadership and independence – and this should certainly make the outcome consultations more palatable. There is a responsibility on African states parties to ensure that their participation in the facilitation process (and election, if necessary) is directed at securing a successful presidency, taking into account the competencies, skills and circumstances of the candidates.

The presidency of the ASP provides an opportunity for African leadership within the ICC. This responsibility begins with the process leading up to the election of the new president. It is hoped that the election of the new ASP president would further enhance the space for dialogue, not only between the ICC and the AU, but also globally. In addition, the ASP president could help to promote further cooperation towards resolving various challenges in international criminal justice.

Dire Tladi, Consultant, Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, ISS Pretoria


Sudan – Turabi demands election delay until 2015

Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s PCP leader demands 2015 elections be delayed(KHARTOUM) – The leader of Sudan’s Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi, said his party participated in the national dialogue in order to return “power to the people”, disclosing he demanded the government to delay the 2015 elections.

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Head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan al-Turabi gestures during an interview in Khartoum on 3 October 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Turabi, who delivered a Eid al-Fitr sermon at a mosque in his native village on Monday, said they accepted president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, initiative for national dialogue in order to return power to the Sudanese people, stressing he asked the government to extend elections date to allow political parties contact their bases.

Reliable sources from opposition side in the national dialogue committee known as 7+7 told Sudan Tribune that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) expressed reservation on issues of the transitional government and review of elections law while opposition forces insists on discussing these issues before the 2015 elections.

Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying NCP holds absolute control over power and refuse to make any compromise to end the civil war and allow public liberties.

Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC) had previously said it received requests from political parties last April to delay elections.

The NEC chief, Mukhtar al-Asam, said they received requests for postponing elections from the PCP and the National Umma Party led by, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, due to financial difficulties and the country’s present circumstances.

He said the NEC agreed with these political parties on the possibility for postponing elections until improving their financial position.

However, after conflicting statements from government officials, Bashir emphasised that there will be no postponement for next year’s elections and even berated NCP officials who suggested otherwise.

Turabi urged residents of his village to properly choose their representative in the parliament, calling upon them to take elections seriously.

The veteran Islamic leader ruled out running in the upcoming elections, saying it must be fair and transparent.

He further demanded the government to allow neutral bodies oversee elections.
Last week, the 7+7 committee said it has partially agreed on a roadmap for a process to realise peace and democratic reforms.

Presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour, said the committee agreed to more than %90 of the roadmap, noting the framework agreement would be completed no later than Eid al-Fitr [feast of breaking the fast of Ramadan] holiday.

He expressed optimism that political forces would confidently move towards the national dialogue.

Last January, Bashir called on political parties and armed groups to engage in a national dialogue to discuss four issues, including ending the civil war, allowing political freedoms, fighting against poverty and revitalizing national identity.

He also held a political roundtable in Khartoum last April with the participation of 83 political parties.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) boycotted the political roundtable, saying the government did not respond to its conditions.

The NCF wants the NCP-dominated government to declare a comprehensive one-month ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In addition it has called for the issuing of a general amnesty, allowing public freedoms and the release of all political detainees.

Bashir at the time instructed authorities in the states and localities across Sudan to enable political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters without restrictions except those dictated by the law.

The Sudanese president also pledged to enhance press freedom so that it can play its role in the success of the national dialogue unconditionally as long they abide by the norms of the profession.

Political detainees who have not been found to be involved in criminal acts will be released, Bashir said

But since then, Sudanese authorities arrested al-Mahdi and the head of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) Ibrahim al-Sheikh. It also intensified its censorship of newspapers by either suspension or shutting down the entire media houses.

The NUP suspended its participation in national dialogue following detention of its leader in May after he criticised government militia, accusing them of committing war crimes in Darfur. After his release in June, Mahdi said there is a need to review the current process and to include rebels in the political process.

The PCP refused to suspend its participation in the national dialogue, saying all current difficulties can be resolved within the existing mechanisms.


Liberia shuts down schools because of ebola


Liberia’s government has announced that it is closing down all schools across the country to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

Some communities would be placed under quarantine as well, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said.

Non-essential government workers will be sent home for 20 days and the army deployed to enforce the measures.

The number of people killed by the virus in West Africa has now reached 672, according to new UN figures.

The BBC’s West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy says treatment facilities have reportedly been overwhelmed in the Liberian capital Monrovia.


Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Coloured transmission electron micro graph of a single Ebola virus, the cause of Ebola fever
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats are considered to be virus’ natural host

Profile: Dr Sheik Umar Khan


Some wards have already filled up, forcing health workers to treat some patients at their homes.

President Sirleaf said that Friday 1 August would be a non-working day in Liberia to allow for the disinfection of all public facilities.

“All non-essential staff – to be determined by the heads of ministries and agencies – are to be placed on 30 days’ compulsory leave,” she added.

Rapid spread

The US humanitarian organisation Peace Corps said it was withdrawing 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea because of the spread of the virus.

Two of its volunteers had been isolated after being exposed to someone who later died from the virus, it added.

A Peace Corps spokeswoman said: “These volunteers are not symptomatic and are currently isolated and under observation.”

Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected, but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

It spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

The outbreak – the world’s deadliest to date – was first reported in Guinea in February. It then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.


Nigeria tracking thousands of possible contacts after ebola case


Nigeria Tracking 30,000 People at Risk of Contracting Ebola


File photo.

Washington, DC — Nigerian health authorities are in the process of tracing more than 30,000 people who could be at risk of contracting Ebola, after the virus surfaced in Lagos.

The authorities have confirmed that a Liberian man who died in Lagos last Friday tested positive for Ebola, Reuters reported.

After the discovery, the hospital that dealt with Nigeria’s first known Ebola victim was closed.

Professor Sunday Omilabu, from Lagos University Teaching Hospital, told Reuters the health authorities are now tracing everyone who may have had contact with the victim.

“We’ve been making contacts. We now have information about the manifest. We have information about who and who were around. So, as I’m talking, our teams are in the facility, where they’ve trained the staff, and then they (are) now asking questions about those that were closely in contact with the patient,” said Professor Omilabu.

‘We’re actually looking at contacting over 30,000 people in this very scenario. Because any and everybody that has contacted this person is going to be treated as a suspect,” said Yewande Adeshina, a public health adviser.

Nigeria’s government has implemented a state of “red alert” at all border crossings and initiated a media campaign to alert the public.

Officials say that the nation’s healthcare system is equipped to deal with any outbreak and that medical staff are properly trained.

Airline precautions

Elsewhere, Pan-African airline ASKY suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone over the worsening Ebola health crisis, as the Liberian football association said it halted all activities in the country, the French news agency AFP reported on Tuesday.

The highly contagious and often fatal disease spreads among humans via bodily fluids, including sweat, meaning one can get sick from touching an infected person.

Also, Decontee Sawyer, the American widow of a Liberian government official who died after contracting Ebola, spoke with the Associated Press about her husband’s death and her efforts to highlight the dangers of the virus.

Sawyer, speaking from her home in Coon Rapids, in the U.S. state of Minnesota, told the AP that her husband, Patrick Sawyer, had planned to come home for two of his three daughters’ birthdays next month.

She had learned that her husband caught the disease from his sister, who fell ill and died of Ebola. He did not know at the time that she had Ebola, Sawyer told the AP, as the virus shares symptoms with other diseases including malaria.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.  allAfrica

Nigeria – six now reported dead in Kano college suicide bombing


Fourth female suicide bomber hits Nigeria’s Kano, kills six

KANO Nigeria Wed Jul 30, 2014

KANO Nigeria (Reuters) – A female suicide bomber blew herself up in a college in northern Nigeria’s biggest city of Kano on Wednesday, killing six people and critically wounding another six in the fourth such attack by a woman in Kano in less than a week, a security source said.

The bomber targeted youths who were looking at a notice board for national youth service in Kano Polytechnic, the source said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although militant group Boko Haram, which is fighting for an Islamic state in religiously-mixed Nigeria, has repeatedly bombed Kano as it radiates attacks outwards from its northeast heartlands.

Using female suicide bombers in the city appears to be a new tactic of Boko Haram, although they have used them on occasion for years in the northeast.

Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a trade show and a petrol station in Kano on Monday, killing one other person and injuring at least six others.

On Sunday, a female suicide bomber killed herself but no one else while trying to target police officers.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, two suicide bombers killed 13 people in attacks on two mosques in the town of Potiskum, in Yobe state in the northeast, a medical official there told Reuters on Wednesday.

Though much of the violence is concentrated in the remote northeast, they have struck across Nigeria in several bomb attacks since April. On Sunday, they mounted a cross-border attack into Cameroon, killing at least three people there and kidnapping the wife of the vice prime minister. Reuters


Nigeria – Fani-Kayode challenges APC over its relationship with Boko Haram

Punchani-Kayode dares APC to explain links with B’Haram

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode

A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has again challenged the All Progressives Congress to explain its relationship with the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, saying the party was not able to controvert him, few months ago, when he accused it of sponsoring the sect.

While speaking with journalists in Osogbo, Osun State capital, after attending a campaign rally of the Peoples Democratic Party, on Tuesday, Fani-Kayode insisted that some members of the APC, particularly those from the North, were sponsoring the operations of Boko Haram.

He said, “The APC in the North is the political wing of Boko Haram in the northern part of Nigeria. This, I have said before and no one among them was bold enough to challenge me. I will continue to say it again and again. The northern elements in the APC have to explain to all Nigerians why some of their leaders in the North support, encourage and defend Boko Haram members.

“No member of the APC has been bold enough to controvert what I said about their relationship with the Boko Haram members in the North. I stand to be challenged if any of them has a contrary view.”

Fani-Kayode, who recently defected from the APC to the PDP, also said he had met with the people that matter in the PDP including President Goodluck Jonathan and they had assured him of an enabling stay in the ruling party.

He said he would work for the victory of the PDP in the forthcoming governorship election in Osun State and would also contribute to the victory of the party in the 2015 general elections.

He added that the PDP remained the only national party in the country.

When asked to comment on his meeting with President Jonathan, Fani-Kayode said, “I will not like to reveal what we discussed in the secret. It was a closed- door meeting and let us leave that for now.”

In his reaction to Fani-Kayode’s comments, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told our correspondent that the party would rather spend its time on more productive ventures than respond to the former aviation minister’s allegations.

“We will not spend time again defending the obvious. We will rather spend our time on more productive ventures,” Mohammed said.

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South Sudan parties want creation of prime minister post

Sudan Tribune
.July 29, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese political parties are demanding the creation of a prime minister’s position in the proposed interim government between the country’s ruling party (SPLM) and its opposition wing.

The group, in a position paper, said the president and prime minister’s posts shall be occupied by nominees from the rival factions of the SPLM, while the vice presidency be given to another party.

“The president and prime minister shall, respectively, be from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in government (SPLM IG and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO). The vice-president shall be from the political parties other than the two mentioned above,” partly reads the position paper obtained by Sudan Tribune.

“The speaker of the national parliament shall be an agreed national figure,” it added.

The document also recommends formation of a 21- member cabinet and 18 other independent commissions, suggesting the prime minister as head of government, but reporting to the president in accordance with the conduct of government business regulations.

According to the position paper, some of the functions of the interim government will be the implementation of the peace agreement; conduct of census; registration of the political; oversee an integrated process of national reconciliation and healing; convene national constitutional conference, produce draft permanent constitution prior to conducting a popular referendum for adoption, prepare ground for the conduct of free and fair national elections, expedite reparation of the internally displaced persons, consolidate relations with foreign countries.

The country’s political parties also proposed a 60% to 40% power-sharing arrangement with the majority going to the governing party and its rival faction. The council of ministers, parliament, state assemblies, and state governments, it says, shall be composed of political parties as follows: SPLM factions 60% and other political parties taking 40%.

It also proposes dissolution of one branch of the national legislature, saying there shall be one national parliament composed of 250 members, while the 10 state assemblies each take 48 members.

“It cannot be overemphasised that our country will enjoy sustainable peace, just a stop of war, when and only the suggested and agreed reforms are implemented during the transitional period,” the proposal adds.

President Kiir


Kenya – ICC puts pressure on government over Kenyatta financial documents


By Alphonce Shiundu
Updated Wednesday, July 30th 2014 at 09:59 GMT +3
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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
International Criminal Court judges stepped up the pressure on the Jubilee administration to make available all the crucial information, including financial records the prosecution hopes would buttress the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The judges dismissed the Government’s plea, through the Attorney General Githu Muigai, that they could not help Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her job.

“The Chamber considers that requesting the information from official sources, maintained by relevant government agencies, constitutes an appropriate means of seeking to obtain such information,” the judges noted, as they pointed out that the prosecution was specific in the time period, the individual involved, and the nature of the information that it seeks.

In the ruling Tuesday, ICC Judges Kuniko Ozaki, Robert Fremr and Geoffrey Henderson, also gave Bensouda’s office express permission to “pursue all possible means” to get the telephone records linked to President Kenyatta. The records date from June 1, 2007 to December 15, 2010.

The judges said the prosecution was right in specifying the time because it was the only way to establish a “pattern of activity”, so that the “unusual communications or transactions” pop out.

“In the Chamber’s view, investigative inquiries need not be confined merely to the immediate period of the violence,” the judges noted in their signed ruling.

See Also: CAMAC supports African leaders summit in US
The ruling means Prof Muigai and the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku, under whose docket the work of co-operation with ICC falls, would have to work harder to get the bank, land transfer, vehicle, company and even telephone records linked to Uhuru.

The State would also have to surrender intelligence reports and any other police report regarding the President’s activities in the same period.

Kenyan officials would also have to manually comb through the paper records at many of the Government offices, especially those at the Ministry of Lands, and those at the Registrar of Companies, to get information on companies that President Kenyatta owns directly or indirectly.

“It is noted that such information is not normally sought primarily for its own evidentiary value but rather to facilitate the subsequent requests for transactional records, including in respect of land transfers and bank account details. In the chambers view, it is a reasonable investigative premise that an accused with access to substantial resources may choose to act through various intermediary entities as this would in particular reduce the traceability of transactions intended to further a criminal purpose,” the judges noted.

The judges said they understood the “practical difficulties” in getting the information, but even so, “practical difficulties that may arise in carrying out a request do not invalidate it”.

“The Chamber notes that the Prosecution has indicated a willingness to provide additional resources, if required, to assist in conducting manual searches,” the judges said.

They noted that the difficulties “might be mitigated or overcome” if the Prosecution and the Government worked in good faith.


Nigeria – suicide bomb at Kano college


Blast at northern Nigeria college

A suicide bomb has exploded at a college in northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Kano, and there are casualties, witnesses say.

The explosion occurred as students queued to check their names on a new admission list, they added.

Bodies lay strewn at the blast site, witnesses told the BBC.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out a wave of bombings and assassinations in Nigeria since launching a brutal insurgency in 2009.

The bomber was hidden in the crowd, a witness, Isyaku Adamu, told the AFP news agency.

“It was a huge crowd and people were jostling to go through the lists,” Mr Adamu is quoted as saying.

The BBC’s Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai in Kano says police have not yet confirmed the blast.

The number of people killed or wounded is still unclear, but Reuters news agency reports that six people were killed and six others were critically wounded.

On Sunday, police said a bomb was thrown at worshippers leaving a Kano church, killing four people; separately, a female suicide bomber blew herself up as she was cornered by police near the city’s university.

Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the regional Hausa language.

Cameroon – Bita sacks senior officers over Boko Haram attack


(Reuters) – President Paul Biya on Tuesday dismissed two senior army officers in Cameroon’s far north following Boko Haram attacks in which at least seven people were killed and the wife of a senior official was kidnapped.

Militants of the Nigerian Islamist group seized the wife of Cameroon’s vice prime minister and killed at least three people on Sunday in an attack in the northern town of Kolofata involving more than 200 assailants. At least four soldiers were killed in two separate raids late last week.

According to the decree, announced over state radio, Colonel Youssa Gedeon, commander of the Gendarmerie Legion in the north, and Lieutenant-Colonel Justin Ngonga, commander of the 34th motorised infantry battalion in the same region, were both dismissed.

Both officers were at the forefront of Cameroon’s response to the rising number of Boko Haram attacks in the region. Nigeria says the militants are using Cameroon as a rear base.

Cameroon has already introduced measures to increase security on its long, jungle border with Nigeria, deploying more than 1,000 soldiers, but has failed to stop the raids. reuters