African expert lauds Turkey-Africa win-win partnership

By Felix Nkambeh Tih, Ecenur Colak, and Adam Abu Bashal

A top South African political expert praised Turkish involvement in Africa, saying that the partnership is based on priorities and ideas from the continent itself, not ones from outside.

“What is good with the Turkey-African partnership is that … it is based on African priorities and it is not imposed. It is based on mutual respect and a win-win situation for both sides,” said Eddy Maloka, who has decades of experience both as an academic and advising South African governments.

Maloka told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview that Turkey does not put pressure on African countries the way some others do.

He also thanked Turkey for promoting investment in Africa, saying: “It is a very good model that we want to encourage other countries in the world to emulate.”

Maloka is currently CEO of the African Peer Review Mechanism, a mutually agreed-on instrument voluntarily acceded to by African Union member states as an African self-monitoring mechanism.

Maloka is in Turkey for a two-day visit on Oct. 25-26.

“Turkey frames their partnership and bases it on African priorities and African approaches and African thinking,” he said.

“We must commend the role that Turkey is playing in Somalia, because not all of us are involved in Somalia. Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that has invested quite strongly in the security, economic development, and construction of Somalia,” he said.

This month Turkey opened its largest base abroad in Mogadishu, the capital of the Horn of Africa nation, for the training of 10,000 Somali security forces. It also provided aid and medical treatment in the wake of the Oct. 14 bombing that took hundreds of lives.

He added that like Somalia, countries such as Burundi, Sierra Leone, and the Central African Republic also need help.

“These are the countries that need a lot of support that I know that Turkey is able to provide,” Maloka said.

‘Africa’s security in African hands’

African countries have to provide solutions to African problems, said Maloka.

“The issue of the African century is very important because it goes together with finding African solutions to African problems. We Africans have to solve our own problems.

“African governments must be governed democratically, there must be good governance, African governments have to represent their people. There must be a very strong political will by African leaders,” Maloka said.

He added that Africa works and acts better when it is united.

“You have to build an Africa that is based on the strong voice of the people. That’s how you make sure that African solutions to African problems isn’t just a dream but a reality.

“The security of Africa is in the hands of Africans themselves.

“Instead of thinking that by having the presence of this force or this [outside peacekeeping] force I am protecting myself, you rather have to think of your own capacity.

“But there is a new phenomenon which is developing now in Africa, you can see it in Western and Central Africa the way some countries are dealing with the issue of Boko Haram. The countries have been able to combine and have joint operation against a common enemy,” he said.

The Multinational Joint Task Force was established in 1994 by Lake Chad Basin countries — Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin — and recently bolstered with the aim of eradicating the terrorist Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, a Daesh-affiliated group based in northeastern Nigeria, has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes, according to Amnesty International and the UN, and was ranked the world’s deadliest terror group by the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

Maloka continued: “There is the situation of Mali, where France intervened militarily [in 2013]. The French force was requested by African states after consultation. It is better when it is requested by African countries collectively.

“The best way for Africans to deal with the issue of the presence of foreign forces is for Africa to operationalize the African standby force,” he added

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Arrests will not deter Cameroon’s separatism: Experts

Demonstrators in English-speaking Cameroon regions are calling for independence from Central African state

By Felix Nkambeh Tih and Hassan Isilow

The arrest of the leader of Cameroon’s separatist movement will not dissuade protesters from continuing to seek their demands, experts have told Anadolu Agency.

At least 10 Cameroonian separatists, including their leader Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, were arrested in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the activists said in a statement last week.

Tabe was arrested on allegations he was involved in underground meetings against the Republic of Cameroon.

In December 2017 Nigerian authorities had said they did not support the separatist movement in anglophone Cameroon.

“His arrest to a large extent will not quell the protests but will instead increase its momentum,” said Faith Mabera, a researcher at the Institute of Global Dialogue in South Africa’s capital Pretoria.

She said it is yet to be seen if regional blocs such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) would send mediators to Cameroon because the crisis is now spilling into the region.

Cameroon has been marred with protests for over a year, with residents in English-speaking regions saying they have been marginalized for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.

‘Colonial legacy’

The protesters are calling for a return to federalism or independence of English-speaking Cameroon, which the demonstrators refer to as the “Republic of Ambazonia”.

English-speakers frequently complain of exclusion from top civil service jobs and the use of French in government institutions, although the constitution gives both languages official status.

“Cameroon needs to urgently start a national dialogue to address grievances of its citizens,” political analyst Shadrack Gutto said.

Gutto, the former director of the Centre for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa, also suggested that Cameroon should return to a federal state system which was dissolved in 1972.

Ebelle Onana, a lecturer at the University of Yaounde said: “Cameroon is now held hostage by an explosive colonial legacy.”

“I do not like to use the term English-speaking, which I find discriminating. This crisis is the result of the colonial legacy,’’ he said.

The academic adds: “The first thing to consider is history, because there was no such thing as Anglophones and Francophones in any village in Cameroon. This conflict comes from elsewhere.”

Excessive force

French Cameroon gained its independence from France in 1960. In 1961, a federal state was set up when British Cameroon gained its independence from Great Britain and joined French Cameroon.

The federal state was however dissolved in favor of a unitary state in 1972.

Since then anglophones say they are being marginalized and forced to use French in public institutions and schools and also use the French-Cameroon legal system in courts.

‘‘In my view, the situation in Cameroon is very volatile and might continue to get worse. The state will not continue to operate normally unless it divides the country or reorganizes itself through dialogue,” Gutto said.

Rights groups have accused the country’s security forces of arbitrarily arresting peaceful protesters and using excessive force in the past months to disperse gatherings in the North West and South West Regions, leading to several injuries and civilian deaths.

The violence has left dozens of protesters dead and over 100 injured on Oct. 1 after tens of thousands of people began a peaceful march to proclaim the independence of the region, which the protesters call the Republic of Ambazonia, according to the International Crisis Group (IGC).

‘‘The Cameroonian president must go beyond superficial measures and take responsibility in order to find political solutions to the crisis,” IGC said in a report last October.

At least 40,000 have fled and crossed into neighboring Nigeria, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Meanwhile, dozens of military and police officers have also been killed since the protests started in Oct. 2016.

This triggered President Paul Biya to break his silence for the first time in several months.

He said: ‘‘Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks by a band of terrorists claiming to be part a secessionist movement.’’

‘‘Confronted by these acts of aggression, I wish to reassure the people of Cameroon that all steps are being taken to incapacitate these criminals and to make sure that peace and security are safeguarded throughout the national territory,” he added.

The government had also shut down the internet in the two English-speaking regions in the Central African state

UN: 2,000 children used by militias in DR Congo

– Conflict in Congo’s Kasai region has affected more than 1.5 million children, says UNICEF

By Felix Nkambeh Tih

ANKARA

At least 2,000 children have been press-ganged into fighting by militias and more than 600,000 people have been displaced in rising violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region, UNICEF said on Friday.

The UN agency also said the security and humanitarian crisis had affected more than 1.5 million children overall.

“The children of Kasai are being forced to face horrible hardship … hundreds of children have been injured in the violence, with reports of children being detained, raped and even executed,” Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF representative in DRC, said in a statement.

At least 300 children have been seriously injured and more than 4,000 have been separated from their families, according to the UN.

The UN agency also said 350 schools had been destroyed in the same provinces, while one of three health centers in Kasai Central was no longer operating.

Kasai Central is the stronghold of the Kamwina Nsapu militia. Violence between the Kamwina Nsapu and the security forces worsened in August 2016 after government troops killed the group’s leader.

So far more than 400 people have been killed in the fighting between Congolese security forces and militiamen, according to the UN.

On Wednesday the UN said it had discovered an additional 17 mass graves in Central Kasai province, bringing the total number of mass graves documented in DRC to 40.

AU chief urges African leaders to cut ties with France

  • Speaking in Morocco, Alpha Conde blasts West, especially France, for continuing to meddle in Africa’s affairs.

    Reporting by Mohammed Taleb; writing by Felix Nkambeh  Tih

    RABAT, Morocco (AA)- Guinea’s president, who also serves as African Union (AU) chairman, has called on African countries to “cut the umbilical chord with France” so as to initiate the continent’s development.

    Speaking at the 12th International Salon of Agriculture, held in Morocco’s northern city of Meknes late Monday, Alpha Conde harshly criticized western countries — singling out France in particular — for what he described as their policy of interfering in African domestic affairs.

    “Western countries should no longer dictate what we should do,” he said, going on to assert: “Africa must define its own path to development.”

    “No one should decide for Africa,” he said. “It is true that there are universal principles governing democracy, but it is important to allow African countries adapt these principles to their conditions.”

    Referring to the experiences of certain Asian countries, Conde said that Southeast Asia — especially Malaysia — had managed to develop themselves far from any western interference.

    “We no longer want this interference,” which, he declared, “has given rise to the Somalization of Libya and the insecurity in the Sahel [region of north Africa].”

    Since assuming the AU chairmanship in January, the Guinean president has reiterated calls for the emancipation of African countries from perceived foreign influence.

    At a conference held last month in Abidjan devoted to the emergence of Africa, Conde repeated calls to “cut the umbilical chord with France”.

    Like many West African states, Guinea did not achieve independence from France until the second half of the 20th century.

ANALYSIS: Experts weigh in on Burundi crisis

– Anadolu Agency interviewed African experts for an in-depth look into one of Africa’s most volatile crises

By Felix Nkambeh Tih

ANKARA

Despite UN calls for political dialogue, international pressure and an opposition boycott, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for, and won, a third term in office in controversial polls held on July 21.

Since then, Burundi has witnessed a spate of violent attacks, especially in the capital Bujumbura, sparking fears that the country could plunge into fresh conflict.

Even before the latest wave of violence, Burundi had been in crisis since April, when the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy named Nkurunziza its candidate for the presidency.

Along with violent protests against his planned third-term bid, in which scores of people were killed, Nkurunziza also faced a coup attempt in May, when several top generals attempted – but ultimately failed – to overthrow him while he was attending a summit in Tanzania.

The coup leaders have since regrouped in Rwanda, Burundi’s northern neighbor, where they have vowed to continue to fight the Nkurunziza regime.

Nkurunziza was re-elected for a third term with 70 percent of the vote. His opponent Agathon Rwasa, leader of the National Liberation Forces, received 18.99 percent of the vote.

Nkurunziza’s party also won 77 out of 100 seats in parliamentary elections that sections of the opposition boycotted.

Attacks in Bujumbura

Some observers suspect the Rwanda-based coup plotters of being behind the recent wave of attacks, especially the assassination of General Nshimirimana, the country’s powerful spy chief and a Nkurunziza ally.

“According to Bujumbura, the leaders of the failed coup are now based in Rwanda and the attacks seen in the past weeks are all driven from a base located in the south of Kagame’s country [Rwanda],” Desire Zongo, an Ivorian political scientist specialized in African affairs, told Anadolu Agency.

Pascal Niyonizigiye, a political science professor at the University of Bujumbura, believes that the Rwanda-based generals have supporters in Burundi.

“It is difficult to know who exactly is behind the killings,” Niyonizigiye told Anadolu Agency. “But they could not have been carried out without the complicity of internal elements.”

“The circumstances of General Nshimirimana’s assassination indicate that the attackers are well organized,” he said. “They must have had considerable influence and resources in order to thwart such an important personality’s security detail.”

Since April, gunshots and grenade attacks have been reported throughout the streets of Burundi’s capital and dead bodies are found in every corner of Bujumbura on a daily basis.

According to Human Rights Watch, Nkurunziza’s security apparatus – including the ruling party’s youth league, known as the “Imbonerakure” – have arbitrarily arrested scores of suspected opponents in recent months.

Action against Nkurunziza

In response to the question as to whether the failed coup plotters have become a de facto rebel group, Zongo said that “the situation in Burundi is unique. The ruling CNDD-FDD, in power since 2005, was itself a rebel movement.”

“Who can be called a rebel there? Let us not forget that Nkurunziza himself was a rebel sentenced to death for killing civilians,” Zongo said.

Nkurunziza came to power following the 2005 Arusha agreement, which – along with ending the Hutu-Tutsi civil war – stipulated that Burundi’s president should not serve more than two terms in office.

“During Nkurunziza’s second term, Agathon Rwasa, leader of the FNL, was considered a rebel and chased out of Bujumbura. He came back some weeks ago to take part in the elections,” Zongo said.

“He has surprisingly been elected vice president of the parliament while General Godefroid Niyombare, the former head of the army under Nkurunziza, is now his main enemy,” he said. “There is nothing set in this country; situations and alliances are really fluid.”

Agathon Rwasa came second in the presidential elections and his party won over 20 seats in the parliamentary elections.

Fears of escalation

On Aug. 16, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, condemned Bikomagu’s assassination, which took place the previous day.

She went on to stress “the need for dialogue and consensus to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the current crisis.”

Zongo told Anadolu Agency that statements condemning the violence were not enough.

He conceded, however, that for the first time in such a crisis the African Union had a clear position against Nkurunziza’s third term.

The African Union could do more than this however, he said.

Zongo believes that the UN-sponsored political dialogue between all stakeholders involved in the Burundian crisis must resume immediately.

On the question of whether the country may plunge into another civil war, Zongo told Anadolu Agency that “Burundi is very weak economically; another war will make the situation worse.”

“There are pressures on both sides, opposition and government, to resume negotiations,” he said. “That is the only way to prevent Burundi from falling back into civil war, which devastated the country two decades ago.”

http://www.aa.com.tr/en

Hungary: 10,000 people protest against gov’t policy

Hungarians demand accountability from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government

By Felix Nkambeh Tih

An estimated 10,000 Hungarians gathered in front of the country’s Parliament Building in Budapest to protest against corruption and government policy.

Demonstrators shouted slogans against Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday evening, accusing his government of graft and also being too close to Russia.

Protesters chanted “Orbán out!”, “Europe”, “democracy” and “regime change”.

Hungarian protesters also gathered in other Hungarian cities and capitals including London and Berlin calling for Orban’s resignation and the dismissal of Ildiko Vida, head of Hungary’s tax authority and other government officials.

The protests came after a tax avoidance scandal erupted last month after the U.S. placed six Hungarian public officials, including the head of tax authority, on U.S. entry ban list because of alleged  links to corruption and the government also sought to impose an internet tax.

– Claims contested

Washington refused to publicly name individuals allegedly involved although Hungary’s tax chief Ildiko Vida accepted that she was on the list, but contested the claims.

Andras Horvath, a former tax authority official at the event, called for immediate action against corruption and the construction of a new political system in which “nobody is left by the road”.

“We have come to bury not a government, but a regime,” another demonstrator said.

Despite his lack of popularity, Orban was re-elected in April with his party Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Alliance) winning two-thirds of the seats in parliament.

http://www.aa.com.tr/en

Work for the poor and peace, Pope Francis urges G20

Pontiff asks world leaders ‘not to forget that many lives are at stake’ behind their political decisions

By Felix Nkambeh Tih

ANKARA 

The Pope has called on world leaders to remember the poor, work for peace and tackle inequality in the world in a letter sent to Australian Prime Minister ahead of the G20 summit in Brisbane.

In the letter addressed to Tony Abbott – who will host the summit on Nov. 15 and 16 – he asked the head of the Australian state and government “not to forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions”.

Pope Francis wrote: “Throughout the world, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists.”

The Pope said he hoped the decisions made by the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies “will not be restricted to global indices, but will take into account as well real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality”.

“It would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle,” he added.

– ‘Unbearable situations’

Pope Francis also appealed for support for victims of current global crises, especially refugees.

“These conflicts leave deep scars and result in unbearable humanitarian situations around the world. I take this opportunity to ask the G20 Member States to be examples of generosity and solidarity in meeting the many needs of the victims of these conflicts, and especially of refugees,” The Pope continued.

He wrote that “the situation in the Middle East has revived debate about the responsibility of the international community to protect individuals and peoples from extreme attacks on human rights and a total disregard for humanitarian law”.

“I express these hopes in light of the post-2015 Development Agenda to be approved by the current session of the United Nations Assembly, which ought to include the vital issues of decent work for all and climate change,” he added in his letter.

www.aa.com.tr/en