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AU chair questions US stance on African peacekeeping

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Addis Ababa – The African Union’s new chair Moussa Faki Mahamat on Wednesday questioned US commitment to fighting terrorism on the continent after it blocked efforts to get UN funding for an anti-jihadist force in the Sahel.

“This is a specific case of a certain number of African states taking the initiative to create a dedicated force to fight terrorism. So, we don’t understand how the United States could hold back or not engage in the fight against terrorism,” Faki said in an interview with AFP.

Faki’s January election as chairperson of the AU commission came days after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has proposed slashing US funding for aid projects and multilateral institutions like the UN.

The former Chadian foreign minister made peace and security his top priority and claimed an early victory when the UN Security Council last month welcomed the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in West Africa’s Sahel region.

But the US stopped the Security Council from formally backing the force and opposes funding it.

Washington has argued that UN authorisation was not necessary because the troops will be operating in the territories of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, the countries that make up the force.

However the real issue is seen to be willingness to commit UN funds to the mission and the question of financing still hangs heavily over the so-called G5 force, which will be headquartered in Mali.

Faced with the possibility that the Trump administration’s budget proposal under debate in the US congress could slash funding to African aid projects or institutions like the AU, Faki urged Washington not to abandon the continent.

“We hope that the new administration will be in step with the current challenges of the world,” Faki said. “In any case, it does not seem opportune for the United States to disengage itself. These are fundamental questions which determine my faith for peace and stability in the world.”

Last month the US pushed through a $600m cut in the UN’s budget for peacekeeping operations that will force the drawdown of a long-running peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.

The US is one of the foreign donors that pay for the bulk of the AU’s budget and is a key partner of the body’s AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

But the African bloc has already found itself at odds with the Trump administration, particularly on the issue of climate change.

The AU spoke out against Trump’s June announcement that the US would pull out of the Paris climate deal, with deputy AU commission chairperson Thomas Kwesi Quartey calling on Washington to return.

Africa

Mo Ibrahim: What makes a good African leader? – The Stream

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Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born British billionaire philanthropist made his fame and fortune by bringing mobile phone service to tens of millions of Africans across the continent. Now, he is known for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and its prize, considered the world’s largest, for good governance and leadership, awarded to departing African leaders that fit criteria established by the foundation.

Celtel International was founded in 1998 and went on to be a trailblazer in establishing communications on the African continent. The company is famous for never having paid a bribe, a story Ibrahim is fond of telling. Since he sold Celtel in 2005 for 3.4 billion, he has been focused on his foundation’s work and the annual index of African governance; an index with that measures political, social, and economic factors in all 54 countries. It is an ambitious tool, meant to increase accountability and provide Africans with information to ask questions of their leaders and governments.

The foundation’s prize was created as an incentive for African leaders to shun corruption, step down at the mandated time, and to provide departing African leaders with a livelihood after leading. The prize is not without some controversy, as some critics have said it’s akin to bribing a leader simply to do the right thing, or rewarding them just for doing their job. It awards $5 million USD over 10 years when the selected leader steps down, and $200,000 USD thereafter for life. But every year has not seen a laureate awarded. Since it began in 2006, only five individuals have been given the prize, and the prize has not been awarded for the last three years, highlighting the political challenges faced by some African countries.

The Stream meets with Ibrahim to discuss African governance, his foundation’s work, and the driving forces in Africa right now.

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Africa

Zambia sends former leader Kaunda to talk to Mugabe

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Zambian President Edgar Lungu has gone one step further. He’s sent the country’s former leader — Kenneth Kaunda — to Zimbabwe to try to convince Mugabe to make a dignified exit. Kaunda has used the country’s presidential jet, and has been holding talks with Mugabe. Kaunde is one of the most respected former leaders on the continent. He played a supportive role in Zimbabwe’s struggle for liberation against white minority rule, so it’s believed he has some sway with President Mugabe.

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Africa

Robert Mugabe, in Speech to Zimbabwe, Refuses to Say if He Will Resign (VIDEO)

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — It was the resignation speech that did not happen.

Robert Mugabe, 93, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron grip until the military took over and placed him under house arrest, stunned the nation on Sunday night with a nearly 20-minute address in which he refused to say whether he would resign.

Many political observers and fellow Zimbabweans had been waiting for Mr. Mugabe to step down as president after nearly 40 years in power. But sitting at a table while flanked by members of the military and other officials, the embattled president said he would preside over the party congress, scheduled to take place in a few weeks.

Mr. Mugabe made the non-announcement in a televised address to the southern African nation about 9 p.m. local time after intense negotiations at the State House with the country’s Army generals about the conditions of his what was expected to be his departure.

His speech came hours after he was expelled as leader of his own governing party, ZANU-PF, which gave him until noon Monday to resign or face impeachment by Parliament.

Officials earlier barred his wife, Grace Mugabe, widely viewed as his likely successor, from the party for life.

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