Morocco wishes to rejoin the African Union, 32 years after leaving the organization. according to a message Moroccan King Mohammed VI sent to the African Union Summit in Rwanda. Morocco left the Continental bloc in 1984 after the African Union admitted the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, located in disputed Western Sahara, as an AU member. Moroccan authorities have long maintained that Western Sahara is part of Morocco. Support of readmission of Morocco is supported by 28 AU heads of State to "act for the immediate suspension of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from the activities of the African Union and all its bodies, to enable the AU to play a constructive role and contribute positively to UN efforts for a final settlement to the regional dispute over the Sahara". The countries supporting the action are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo and Zambia.
Voting for African Union Commission chairperson to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has failed to produce a two-thirds majority for any of the three candidates who were up for nomination. Heads of state cast their votes for the most important position on the Continental body. The elections are being postponed to the January AU Summit. It is believed that fifteen heads of states abstained from voting when the first round of votes were cast, and 20 during the second round, which an insider said was a "vote of no confidence" for all the candidates.
Over the past five years the Chinese military presence in Africa has undergone a profound change. Until 2012, the Chinese played a low-key support role in multinational peacekeeping operations, preferring to send military engineers and medical staff rather than deploy combat forces. Today, that is no longer the case. China is the eighth-largest supplier of troops for UN peacekeeping operations in Africa and the largest among the five permanent Security Council members. The large and growing Chinese military presence in Africa is also becoming increasingly diverse both in terms of where its forces are deployed and their operational capacity. China's most sophisticated warships have been actively involved in multinational anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden since 2008, and new operations and involvement within the international anti-piracy effort in the Gulf of Guinea.
The murders of 12 local politicians in South Africa have raised fears of a campaign of violence and claims of factional fighting within the ruling African National Congress (ANC). The killings in June and July have largely occurred in KwaZulu-Natal province and targeted ANC candidates standing for positions as ward councilors. "Without a doubt, the ongoing assassinations are political killings orchestrated within the different factions of political parties," political analyst Andre Duvenhage told Anadolu Agency. In a sign of the growing tension surrounding local politics in South Africa, the ANC's nomination of Thoko Didiza to replace Kgosientso Ramokgopa as mayor of Pretoria in the Aug. 3 election last month led to rioting.
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli promised harsh crackdowns on any opposition protests, days after the country's main opposition Chadema party called for anti-government rallies beginning in September. Magufuli, who is nicknamed "the bulldozer," vowed to deal with anyone causing violence "thoroughly and without mercy." Critics say the President, who has been praised by some international donors for cracking down on corruption, has grown increasingly authoritarian since taking office in late 2015.
The United Nations handed over security control to Liberian forces on June 30, nearly 13 years after it first established a peacekeeping mission in Liberia. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said continued improvement in security and stability enabled the handover, making it possible for the U.N. mission in Liberia to move into its final phase. The U.N. presence in Liberia will be capped at about 1,200 military personnel and 600 police and will play a supporting role only. Still, the Secretary-General reminded all stakeholders to remain engaged in maintaining Liberia's stability and supporting its people and government.
Tens of thousands marched in Ethiopia's northwestern city of Gondar. Residents descended to the city center "piazza" around 9 am. The rally lasted until noontime. In placards and chants, the protesters denounced what they see as putting Amhara people at a disadvantage. Among the slogans in the protest: "Restore the historic border", "Wolqait is Amhara", "Qimant and Amhara are one" and "Return the land given to Sudan". The protesters demanded: "Respect for Amhara-ness", "Amhara is not terrorist", "Stop mass killing Amhara people" and an end to alleged TPLF dominance in the region. Shooting broke out when the Anti-Terrorism Taskforce moved to detain a group of individuals including those known as organizers of a movement for the reassignment of Wolqait district from Tigray region to Amhara region. The task force claimed the individuals were wanted for crimes, while the supporters of the movement deemed it as a political crackdown. The clash left eleven security officers and five civilians dead.
MOZAMBIQUE / INDIA
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes his visit to four African nations, some not visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades, will reinvigorate cooperation in energy, trade and investments. The Prime Minister visited Mozambique, followed by South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. Brushing aside suggestions that India is trying to compete with China in Africa. The Prime Minister is likely to push for civil airline agreements and to meet with the substantial Indian communities in South Africa and Kenya as well as signing agreements with each of the four countries.
Muammar Gaddafi's son has been released by his Libyan jailors. Saif al-Islam was sentenced to death in 2015 for crimes committed during the revolution that overthrew his father. The former Libyan dictator's second son "was given his liberty on April 12, 2016", lawyer Karim Khan said, adding that Saif al-Islam was released under an amnesty and "in accordance with (Libyan) law".
ALGERIA / MOROCCO
Algeria and Morocco announced a new bilateral security agreement. The agreement covers security cooperation against the threat of terrorism, particularly that posed by the Islamic State's operations in Libya. Though the two countries' relations remain tense, the high-level visit is rare and could open the door for friendlier relations at a time when Morocco is looking to strengthen both regional and continental ties.
In a landmark admission of historical guilt, German chancellor Angela Merkel said her country will formally recognize and apologize for the systematic murder of Namibia's Herero people more than a century ago. Germany's federal government is in talks with the Namibian government to finalize a common language and policy around the hitherto almost ignored mass killings. Still, Merkel's government was clear that there would be no reparations, but rather targeted development projects. "On the question of whether there could be reparations or legal consequences, there are none. The apology does not come with any consequences on how we deal with the history and portray it," Merkel's spokeswoman, told reporters.
King Mswati III's royal budget has been increased to $69.8 million in the current financial year at a time when Swaziland continues to struggle with rising poverty and a sluggish economic growth. According to official figures mentioned in the "Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland's estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019" report, the royal budget was $55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by $13.9 million. The budget also has an extra $6.7 million allocation for the king's private jet. Moreover, the budget for construction of link roads to royal palaces has been increased by $6.4 million. It was $2 million in the last budget. The royal houses budget was also increased by $10 million to reach $17 million.
France has sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994, when ethnic Hutu extremists killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in a three-month rampage while the world largely stood by. The two sentenced mayors, Tito Barahira, 65, and Octavien Ngenzi, 58, were tried over attacks against ethnic Tutsis in the town of Kabarondo, where they both have been mayor. This was the second such trial in France, which can rule on such cases since Parliament adopted a law that gives it universal jurisdiction over cases of crimes against humanity. A number of Rwandan genocide-related crimes have been tried in recent years in Rwanda and other countries. Rights groups welcomed the decision but called for faster trials in other, ongoing investigations. "We need to speed things up, it's high time, it's been 22 years," said Dafroza Gauthier from CPCR, a rights groups of Rwanda victims. "We need procedures to accelerate while there are still witnesses."
The United States pledged $407 million in aid to Tanzania on Aug. 1 for a number of sectors including health, agriculture, education and democratic governance. News of the promised aid comes months after the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government aid agency, pulled $472 million of funding for an electricity project in Tanzania over concerns surrounding March 20 presidential elections in the country's semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar. The $407 million is part of a 5-year deal signed Aug. 1 by Tanzania and the U.S. Agency for International Development.