Deadline looms in disputed Gabon election; EAC summit; Namibia hosts AU youth conference
Burundi crisis, EU economic deal on the table at EAC summit
The Heads of State summit of the East African Community (EAC) continued Thursday, with the arrival of Rwandan President Paul Kagame as he joined leaders of the EAC partner states meeting in Dar es Salaam. Summit participants are expected to focus on the organization’s economic agreements with the EU, which have not yet been signed by all EAC parties.
Tanzania continues to press for a delay before approving the EU-EAC trade agreements, despite the fact that Rwanda and Kenya signed off on the European Partnership Agreement last week. Bloomberg reports that Uganda is expected to follow, while South Sudan does not yet have full partnership rights. Burundi has not signed the trade deal.
The EAC summit talks are being closely watched for any progress on the human rights crises in Burundi. Observers of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s policies in Burundi demand an end to media suppression and the disappearance of journalists, the detention and torture of political enemies, and other violations. They expect EAC to act on Burundi with the same heightened concern applied toward South Sudan, and insist that Nkurunziza accept the United Nations policing and the African Union human rights and military observers he has refused access to date.
Deadline looms as Gabon’s Bongo shrugs off calls for election recount
Gabonese President Ali Bongo has dismissed the calls of European Union observers for a recount of the widely disputed August 27 election results that kept the incumbent firmly in control of the western African nation. The re-election of Bongo over challenger Jean Ping sparked violence across Gabon.
Ping, ahead of a Thursday deadline to file any challenge with Gabon’s Constitutional Court, told Al-Jazeera that up to 200 people had been killed in clashes with security forces since Bongo declared victory. Riots in the Libreville capital last week included demonstrators who set the parliament building on fire, as authorities cut off Internet access and detained up to 1,100 protesters.
The United States has affirmed its support of the African Union’s offer to send a delegation to Gabon to help resolve the debate, announced by AU president Idriss Déby Itno of Chad on Monday. French President François Hollande has condemned the violence and, according to AFP, suggested a recount may be warranted. The disputed victory for Bongo, whose family has led Gabon for nearly 50 years, also has focused renewed attention on the relationship between Hollande’s France and its former colony.
Namibia welcomes African youth to AU human rights conference
Dozens of emerging African leaders have arrived in Namibia as the Southern African Youth Consultation began a two-day dialogue meant to develop youth engagement in African affairs. The conference is the second of four to be held around the continent that include young perspectives in the African Union’s Project 2016 human rights initiative, with special emphasis this year on the rights of women. Ghana hosted the first meeting in Accra, with Tunisia and Uganda selected to host the other regional dialogues.
Lot Ndamanomhata, a champion of Namibian youth initiatives and member of his host country’s National Youth Council, welcomed the guests to Windhoek Thursday for discussions that center on four main themes. They include: young women’s rights; governance, peace, security and migration; inclusion, diversity management and popular participation; and employment and mobility. The conversations are meant to cultivate youth leadership while inviting young Africans to directly influence policy and help shape action plans designed to better achieve the goals of the AU’s 10 Year Human Rights Strategy.
As South Africa enters its third year of drought, officials are hoping that an extension of water restrictions will get Johannesburg and the region through one more month – in the hope that forecasted rains will arrive. With recent unusually high temperatures compounding the problem, Johannesburg residents are asked to cut their consumption by 15 percent to avoid even stricter restrictions than those put in place last November. If necessary, the water utility warns, shedding plans will be implemented and the water supply will be “throttled back” during overnight hours in high-demand areas.
Eight of the country’s nine provinces have been declared drought disaster areas, with the Vaal Dam now at just 30 percent full.