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Erdoğan’s Africa tour kicks off as he arrives in Sudan

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in Sudan on Sunday marking the first time a Turkish president visited the country.

Erdoğan was greeted at the Khartoum International Airport by his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir.

Speaking to reporters at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara ahead of his Africa tour, Erdoğan said Turkey aims to further strengthen cooperation with Africa and discuss ongoing regional.

He said that the visit will aim to boost business ties and target the Gülenist Terror Group’s (FETÖ) exploitation of Africa.

Erdoğan noted that many African countries deported FETÖ members following the deadly July 15, 2016 coup attempt and transferred the control of FETÖ schools to Turkey’s Maarif Foundation, adding that he hopes more action will be taken against the group.

“We know very well that they are the volunteering subcontractors of the imperialists,” Erdoğan highlighted, as he expressed Ankara’s wish to increase the transfer of FETÖ-linked schools in Africa to Turkish authorities.

“We are determined not to let these murderers find shelter on the African continent. I think that this visit is also important from this perspective as well,” he said.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Dr. İrfan Neziroğlu, Turkey’s ambassador to Sudan, said the visit will play a “remarkable role” in boosting the political and economic ties between the two countries.

Neziroğlu said the Sudanese government had decided to hand over two FETÖ-linked schools to the Turkish educational foundation, in line with a protocol signed earlier between Khartoum and Ankara, adding the demand for Turkish schools has increased recently.

“There is a very high demand for the Turkish schools. We’ll probably think about opening new schools,” the ambassador said.

Aware of the threat FETÖ poses to Africa, Ankara has been trying to replace FETÖ-run schools in the continent with state-sponsored schools.

The Maarif Education Foundation is a not-for-profit state-funded body that runs schools outside Turkey. It has taken over schools around the world previously run by FETÖ, which was behind last year’s defeated coup in Turkey, including 32 in Africa, according to figures released by Turkey’s National Education Ministry.

Likewise, Enver Arpa, an associate professor from Ankara Social Sciences University’s Eastern and African Studies Institute, said that the this visit will help Sudan.

“Acknowledged as a regional, and even a global actor, President Erdoğan’s visit to Sudan will boost the morale of the country, which has been exhausted from the international pressure,” Arpa said.

Sudan, once a unified country, was divided into two countries in 2011 after the Christian majority south voted in a referendum for secession, as part of the peace agreement signed in 2005, ending a civil war of more than two decades.

In the north, the population mostly consists of Muslims. During the conflict between the two parts, more than 1.5 million people were killed, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced out of their homes.

Arpa said that Sudan independent policies in the continent “angers the imperial powers” in the region, and added that Sudan is able to overcome internal problems if there are no international interventions.

Ahead of Erdoğan’s visit to Chad, the Maarif Education Foundation also signed an agreement with Chadian authorities to transfer the administration of five FETÖ schools and a dormitory.

Regarding the recent crisis regarding the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Erdoğan said that as the term chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), he expected President Donald Trump to call him and discuss the matter.

He added that Turkey made its call to the U.S. and continues to do so, and will always seek dialogue to resolve the matter.

The president also noted that he is planning to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation of hundreds of civilians who need immediate humanitarian assistance in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta.

After Sudan, Erdoğan will fly to Chad’s capital N’Djamena on Tuesday. On the last day of the three-day visit, the president is scheduled to fly to Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia.

The visit will be dominated by business forums to discuss investment, and Erdoğan is expected to sign cooperation deals in each state. The visit demonstrates Ankara’s desire to strengthen ties with the three countries under its Africa partnership policy, a statement released by the presidency explained.

Africa

YAMAMOTO: There is greater stability on the African continent

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The US has been talking tough about South Sudan President Salva Kiir, threatening to cut aid to the country. Does Washington plan any other action beyond sanctions?

That was on the minds of the officials of the African Union and regional leaders, and also the subject of discussions in London with our donor community.

When we were at the UN General Assembly in September, we talked to Taban Deng Gai, the first vice president of South Sudan, and laid down clear markers about what we expect. President Salva Kiir has responded to the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in a letter outlining what he is doing to address those issues.

We really want to see concrete examples, not words. We support [Ethiopia] Prime Minister Hailemariam and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [Igad] as well as the AU to push South Sudan to stop the violence, look at the high rates of refugee flows, now 1.3 million into Uganda, and also the large numbers of internally displaced people.

We would like to see concrete measures, and progress towards ending the violence, which jeopardises the stability and security of the countries around South Sudan.

What is the US position on the Igad revitalisation process on South Sudan, and what was your point of discussion with the Ethiopian Prime Minister?

Ethiopia is a critical partner and is the current chair of Igad, leading high-level discussions on South Sudan. Ethiopia contributes troops to peacekeeping operations in South Sudan as well as Sudan.

We discussed the efforts of Ethiopian troops to stabilise Somalia, prevent terrorism and elements from Al Shabaab and ISIS coming into their country. We also talked about internal domestic challenges that face Ethiopia and Somalia, based on ethnic divides, land tenure problems, government procedures and local practices.

There is concern about Ethiopia’s internal stability. What was your impression on the state of the leadership within the ruling EPRDF?

I deferred to Prime Minister Hailemariam and his government on the details of what our discussions were. We talked about domestic issues like challenges in Somalia.

Ethiopia has a high population growth, with 70 per cent of the population under the age of 30, which means increasing unemployment among the youth. We discussed how we could partner to create jobs, support healthcare, education and investment.

You talked with Rwanda President Paul Kagame about reforms at the Africa Union. What role is the US likely to play?

President Kagame is coming in as chair at a time when big changes are taking places in the African Union. President Kagame is well situated to address those issues, considering his leadership in Rwanda.

Over the past 20 years, the number of democratic or democratic-leaning countries with free open elections in Africa has increased. There is greater stability on the continent, and we want to build on that to strengthen democracies in fragile states.

The US suspended military aid to Somalia. What is the way forward considering that a security threat still remains and Somalia needs to build its army?

It is only a temporary suspension that affects about 10,000 troops, and is meant to enhance better accounting. We continue to provide assistance to specialised groups within Somalia.

This is part of our efforts to review how we can form a coherent and effective Somali national army that integrates all groups, military and militia in the regional states.

We have discussed this issue with the Somali government as we establish how to work with the AU, Amisom, the UN, and countries that provide troops like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and Burundi.

The national army needs to be trained, and fully coherent under a unified command.

At the Somalia conference in London last May, we agreed that transparent, open accounting practices and financial institutions are critical. These are the same issues we face in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Monusco.

There has been an increase in terrorist activities on the continent since 2001, and it concurred with the rise in US military presence in Africa. Does it suggest a problem with the American strategy?

It is true that terrorist activities have increased. The leaders and the people we spoke with during this trip were concerned about ISIS fighters leaving Iraq and the Middle East. We’re looking at ISIS formations in Somalia and West Africa. We’re looking at Boko Haram. We’re even looking at the militias in eastern Congo, which are transforming.

We’re working with partner countries, so the US State Department has trained about 300,000 troops from 26 African countries this year, with peacekeeping operations as the main focus.

Our use of military, unlike in other areas, does not take the lead in operations but works with partner countries. Currently, 63 per cent of the UN operations are in Africa. That means you’re taking 87 per cent of the UN troops from Africa, that’s over 70,000.

Could you comment on reports that donors have suspended financial aid to the Kenyan security sector due to recent reports of police brutality?

Our investments in Kenya include security sector reform. Kenya is important, not only in fighting and resisting Al Shabaab, but also ISIS and terrorist groups coming into the country.

As far as detracting or cutting or limiting or setting restrictions, I’ll have to get back to you on that because Kenya is one of our most important countries, just as Ethiopia is, and to my knowledge we have not cut or diminished assistance or investment.

–Compiled by Fred Oluoch.

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Africa

Trump criticised over ‘shithole countries’ remark

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AL JAZEERA — A small group of US senators say they reached a compromise on immigration reform, but it has yet to win the support of President Donald Trump.

According to several reports, Trump made vulgar remarks about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries during the discussions, calling them “shithole countries” and objecting to immigrants coming from there.

He suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway.

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Africa

Uganda;Museveni calls religious leaders traitors in New Year’s message

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In a message that Ugandan media houses were compelled to broadcast, President Museveni blasted religious leaders who criticised the age limit constitutional amendment.

The Ugandan parliament recently amended the constitution removing age limits for presidential candidates, extending the term of elected officers of government from 5 to 7 years and restoring presidential term limits.

The amendment was very controversial, sparking off numerous physical fights in parliament, protests on the street and condemnation from religious leaders.

Instead of working for the independence of Africa, they are always in cahoots with foreigners – encouraging the latter to meddle in our affairs.

In his end of year message to the country, President Museveni accused religious leaders of pushing the agenda of foreign forces striving to meddle into the affairs of Uganda.

According to the president, these church leaders ought to have talked more about what he calls the “the strategic goals of our dear Africa.”

The five strategic goals set by past African leaders, he says, included regaining independence; attaining democracy; working for the prosperity; guaranteeing our strategic security through the political integration of as much of Africa as possible in the form of political federations like the East African Federation; and guaranteeing the survival of our identity as Black People without losing our languages, culture, customs, foods etc., to avoid becoming Black Europeans.

“To some of those elements, the five strategic goals do not exist. What, apparently, matters to them is political power for the political groups they fancy,” charged the president.

‘‘Instead of working for the independence of Africa, they are always in cahoots with foreigners – encouraging the latter to meddle in our affairs.’‘

The president went ahead to call religious leaders out on what he called ‘arrogance’ bordering on ‘betrayal’.

“This is assuming they do not have evil intentions which would be worse. That would make them into the Kayaffas, the Chief Priest that betrayed Jesus.”

His inspiration from the bible was also extended to the 317 members of parliament who voted in favor of lifting the age limit. .

“Remember what Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 5 Verses 11-12. It says: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets that were before you”.

“Therefore, NRM cadres and all patriots; false accusations are nothing for we transcended the firing squads of Idi Amin, the extra-judicial killings, the imprisonments, the losing of comrades in battles, etc.”

The message was derided on social media by Ugandans who had already expressed shock that all media houses in the country had to broadcast the president’s address;

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