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«Editor Ruchita Beri Associate Editor Princy George Editorial Team Babjee Pothuraju Keerthi S Kumar Saurabh Mishra Africa Trends Volume 1, Number 2, ...»

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GHANA Ghana to shut down diplomatic mission in Serbia over Kosovo recognition; Turkey-Ghana trade to grow; China seeks stronger trade ties with West African countries A diplomatic row has ensued between Serbia and Ghana following Kosovo’s recognition by Ghana. Serbia tried to pressure Accra to reverse the decision following which it expelled Ghana’s ambassador. In response, Ghana will be closing its diplomatic mission in Belgrade. The Ghanaian foreign minister said that long years of cordial relations between the two countries had been damaged by the issue.91 A meeting of the Turkey-Ghana Business Council held in Istanbul in March has indicated that Turkey and Ghana could aim to reach US$ 1.5 billion in trade volume by 2014. Ghana is seen as a new destination for investments and an important market for Turkish businesses.92 Meanwhile, the second China-ECOWAS Economic and Trade Forum opened in Accra on March 20; the Ghanaian vice president in his address said that the forum should strive to promote integration through sustainable economic growth and strategic partnership with China. The forum provides a framework for regular consultations to promote direct investment and trade between ECOWAS member states and China. Ghana and China have signed agreements sanctioning loans of US$ 3 billion from the China Development Bank to support infrastructure development in Ghana. Ghana has called on the private sector in West African countries to advance business-tobusiness relations with their Chinese counterparts.93

GUINEA-BISSAU

Military coup in Guinea-Bissau, interim president and premier detained, then released;

Military alleges “secret” deal between Bissau government and Angola; Angolan troops to withdraw; ECOWAS to deploy troops to secure country to constitutional order Days before the launch of the second round of presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau, soldiers attacked the residences of the acting president, Raimundo Pereira and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. and detained them at an army barracks.94 The Guinea-Bissau army later claimed that it had staged the coup because of an alleged secret military deal signed by the government with Angola.95 Angolan troops have been in GuineaBissau since March 2011 to help reform the country’s armed forces as part of a bilateral military agreement. The troops remain in the country though their mission had recently ended. A communiqué from an unidentified military commander in Bissau stated that “The Military Command does not want power but it was forced to act in this way to defend itself from the diplomatic maneuvers of the Guinea-Bissau government, which aims to annihilate the (country’s) “Ghana to close down diplomatic mission in Serbia over Kosovo recognition “, Blic website, Belgrade, March 1, 2012 “Turkey, Ghana aim to reach trade volume of 1.5bn dollars “, Anatolia news agency, Ankara, March 14, 2012 “China seeks strengthening trade ties with West African countries”, Xinhua news agency, Beijing, March 20, 2012 “Guinea-Bissau army holding acting president, fate of premier unclear”, RTP Africa TV, Lisbon, April 13, 2012 “Angola denies troops role in Bissau coup”, news24, April 26, 2012, at http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/ Angola-denies-troops-role-in-Bissau-coup-20120426 Africa Trends Volume 1, Number 2, March-April 2012 armed forces using foreign military force”; it also claimed that it was in possession of a “secret document” of the Guinea-Bissau government that legitimises intervention by the Angolan Armed Forces in Guinea-Bissau through an AU Peace and Security Council mandate.96 Angola has denied that its troops had any role in the coup and has agreed to recall its approximately 600 troops from Guinea-Bissau.

The AU Commission chairperson, Jean Ping, strongly condemned the attacks and stressed that the AU will not accept any unconstitutional seizure of power or attempt at undermining the democratic process in Guinea-Bissau.97 The ECOWAS Speaker of Parliament described the military coup as “an affront on democratic governance”.

Following an ECOWAS announcement to deploy a force in Guinea-Bissau to secure return to civilian rule and threats of targeted sanctions against soldiers who blocked the process, the interim president and premier were released on April 27. The soldiers have accepted the deployment of ECOWAS soldiers to the country.98 Guinea-Bissau’s president died in January this year of ill-health leaving Pereira as interim president of the coup-prone nation. The country has also been destabilised by growing drug trade with traffickers using it as a transit hub for Latin American cocaine mostly headed for Europe.

LIBERIA China to provide technical assistance to Liberia

Liberia has signed a US$ 1.4 million agreement with China to provide technical assistance to the state-run Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS). The assistance will not be limited to LBS alone but will also expand China’s cooperation with Liberia in its reconstruction efforts. The Chinese ambassador to Liberia noted the importance of this project since “the media has become more important in all societies and deserved to be provided with such equipment and technical assistance”.99 MALI Malian President blames Tuareg rebellion on AQIM, Libyan crisis; Malian soldiers storm presidential palace, seize power in Bamako; MNLA captures key northern towns, declares independent state of Azawad; ECOWAS brokers peace deal, coup leaders to hand over power to interim president; Seven Algerian diplomats kidnapped by AQIM-linked group Following heightened activity by the Tuareg rebels in the northern regions of Mali, former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure, in an interview in the last week of February,100 blamed alGuinea-Bissau Soldiers Attack Capital”, TIME, April 13, 2012, at http://www.time.com/time/world/article/ 0,8599,2111917,00.html; “Guinea-Bissau military reveals reasons for uprising, censures Angola”, RDP Africa website, Lisbon, April 13, 2012 “AU condemns Guinea Bissau’s coup”, ENA website, Addis Ababa, April 13, 2012 “Guinea-Bissau President, ex-PM freed by soldiers”, ZEENews, April 28, 2012, at http://zeenews.india.com/news/ world/guinea-bissau-president-ex-pm-freed-by-soldiers_772149.html “China offers technical assistance to Liberia “, Xinhua news agency, Beijing, March 20, 2012 “Malian president blames Tuareg rebellion on Al-Qa’idah, Libyan crisis “, Radio France Internationale, Paris, February 26, 2012 Africa Trends Volume 1, Number 2, March-April 2012 Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the presence of “mercenaries” who arrived from Libya following the crisis there, for the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali that escalated beginning January 17 this year. He indicated that the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) had been a “peaceful and apolitical” organisation until the arrival of arms from Libya. He also denied that the military had been involved in drug trafficking in the Sahel region and pointed to the Tuareg rebels as being perpetuators of this. Toure rejected reports that the rebels were approaching the capital but admitted that equipment and reinforcements sent to the Malian army in the north had not reached them. He blamed the international community for not reacting sufficiently to the threat of the AQIM in Mali and its neighbouring regions.





As the government tried to counter the advance of the Tuareg rebels, by the second week of March, an Islamist group, Ancar Dine, led by a Tuareg rebel that is also fighting for autonomy in northern Mali, called for application of Sharia law in northern Mali by armed struggle.101 The group is thought to have links with the AQIM.

Amidst the violence in the north, on March 22, reports emerged that Malian soldiers had seized power by force in Bamako, after storming the presidential palace and detaining government officials. Sources stated that the soldiers were demanding more means to fight the Tuareg rebellion.102 The mutineers called themselves the National Council for the Rehabilitation of Democracy and Restoration of the State (CNRDR), led by Captain Amadou Sanogo. In the wake of the coup, Toure was said to be under the protection of the elite presidential guard forces.

(Toure was allowed to leave Mali for Senegal on April 19).103 Initial reports indicated that the coup was received with some indifference by the public, resulting from Mali’s economic situation and the government’s perceived mishandling of the Tuareg situation in the north. Young army officers were reported to be abandoning their posts in the north and moving to the south to support the coup in Bamako.104 Reports indicated a split within the armed forces between those supporting the coup and opposing it, and discontent among ordinary soldiers sent to the north while officers remained in the safety of the capital. Humanitarian agencies within the country reported one to three deaths among the military, with 28 people including civilians injured, apparently during clashes between supporters of the coup and those opposing it. 105 The UN Security Council, ECOWAS, the EU, neighbouring countries and other members of the international community condemned the coup and called for immediate restoration of constitutional law.106 A special ECOWAS summit was held on March 27 that denounced the coup d’état and called for immediate restoration of constitutional order. It also launched an ultimatum of April 2 to the CNRDR to restore constitutional order or face political, diplomatic and financial sanctions, and “Tuareg Islamist group says to apply Shari’ah law in parts of Mali it holds”, Liberte, Algiers, March 21, 2012 “Mali soldiers take control of state-media - report “, Xinhua news agency, Beijing, 21 March, 2012 “Malian junta allows ex-leader to leave for Senegal, frees officials”, Misna news agency website, Rome, April 20, 2012 “Former Malian president reportedly in “a safe place””, Africa No 1 radio, Libreville, March 22, 2012 “Malian army divided “, Misna news agency website, Rome, March 23, 2012; “Regional body ECOWAS slaps political, diplomatic sanctions on Malian junta”, Africa No 1 radio, Libreville, March 30, 2012 “UN Security Council slams mutiny in Mali, demands release of detained officials”, Xinhua news agency, Beijing, March 22, 2012

–  –  –

closure of seaports and common borders with neighbouring countries for all but humanitarian goods.107 Meanwhile, the MNLA had seized Kidal, a key town in the north and were advancing rapidly to capture areas from where Malian troops had withdrawn following the coup, taking advantage of the chaos following the coup in Bamako. An offer by Mali’s coup leader Amadou Sanogo to negotiate with the Tuareg rebels to end fighting in the north was rejected by the MNLA; the MNLA stated it would be prepared for peace talks only on condition that the self-determination of the people of Azawad is recognised.108 The MNLA sees the three regions of Timbukta, Gao, and Kidal as comprising the independent state of Azawad. By April 1, the rebels were reported to have captured Timbuktu, hours after taking over the garrison town of Gao. Al-Jazeera quoted a MNLA spokesman as stating that the rebels had no intention to advance south towards Bamako, but would instead begin political processes and institution building in Azawad.109 Some reports suggested the Ancar Dine group fighting for control of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu from the MNLA;

the MNLA has denied that any other groups control these regions.110 An offshoot of the AQIM called the Movement for Unity and Jihad was also reported to be operating alongside the MNLA in the northern region of Gao.111 The group has claimed the kidnapping of seven Algerian diplomats from the Algerian consul in Gao on April 5; latest reports suggest the group is willing to release them.112 The MNLA declared “the independence of Azawad” on April 6 with Gao as their capital city; the declaration was dismissed by the AU, Algeria, Morocco, and France.113 Azawad sources are reported to have said that a transitional national council would be formed to lead the Azawad state until a parliamentary constituent assembly is formed.114 The ECOWAS denounced the declaration, calling it “null and void”, and stated it would take all necessary measures to ensure the territorial integrity of Mali.115 Following talks between the ECOWAS and coup leaders in Bamako, an agreement was brokered on April 6 in which the Malian President and the coup leaders would step down.116 President “ECOWAS to impose diplomatic, financial sanctions on Mali following coup “, This Day website, Lagos, April 1, “Tuareg rebel spokesman rejects Malian coup leader’s talks offer “, Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, March 27, 2012 “Tuareg begin state-building process in northern Mali - Al-Jazeera”, Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, April 1, 2012 “Tuaregs tighten grip on northern Mali, to declare independence soon - Al-Jazeera”, Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, April 2, “Malian junta says rebels have committed “grave” rights violations - Al-Jazeera”, Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, April 4, 2012 “Mali kidnappers say willing to free Algerian diplomats”, AFP, April 24, 2012, at http://www.google.com/ hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j5-4PuaDjCoyE4VapM41nC3TckmA?



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