This week starts with talks on Libya's crisis in Vienna and negotiations in Nigeria over the fuel price increase. Kenya's government makes further moves to close down the world's biggest refugee camp and Uganda's most prominent opposition leader is held on treason charges. A claim that South Africa's President Jacob Zuma wants to arrest finance minister Pravin Gordhan unnerves markets and conditions worsen further in Gambia.
LIBYA: West in talks to fight
Da'ish and consolidate new Tripoli regime
As they meet in Vienna to map out plans to counter Da'ish's (or ISIS)
growing presence in Libya, Western ministers will pressure politicians
they see as undermining the United Nations-backed Government of
National Accord in Tripoli. The new government is seen as a critical
bulwark against Da'ish's efforts to expand its power in the country.
Its Prime Minister, Faiez el Serraj,
is to ask for arms and
intelligence from the United States
and European governments, who have
deployed Special Forces soldiers across the country. Serraj is
struggling to impose his authority as politicians in the Tripoli
parliament refuse to back him while he still faces outright opposition
from the self-proclaimed government in Tobruk, eastern Libya. The
Vienna talks will be chaired jointly by Italy's Foreign Minister Paolo
Gentiloni and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
NIGERIA: Buhari's officials in
crisis talks over fuel prices as queues
Fuel scarcity could worsen as the country's two leading workers'
organisations – the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union
Congress – threaten a national strike following a government plan,
announced on 13 May, to raise prices by over 60%. If the plan isn't
withdrawn, union officials say, the strike will begin on Wednesday.
However, the just-approved national budget for 2016 doesn't include any
allowance for fuel subsidies. That was one of the reasons behind last
week's price hike and will complicate any negotiations between the
government and the unions. In addition, fuel importers have been
complaining they can't raise the dollars to buy gasoline from the
flotilla of tankers lining up in Nigerian waters hoping for business.
KENYA: Government reiterates
plan to close Dadaab camp
Although President Uhuru Kenyatta's
government has not set a precise
deadline on its planned closure of the Dadaab refugee camp, housing
more than 350,000 people, it says it will start expulsions of refugees
as soon as possible. It has already announced the closure of its
Department of Refugee Affairs which has been operating as a liaison
office for the Dadaab camp.
The government has been forced into the closure because of
'international neglect', according to a spokesman from the Interior
Ministry, adding that means Kenya has to accommodate more than 600,000
refugees within its borders and their presence is exploited by
terrorist groups. United Nations officials have responded
diplomatically, calling Kenya 'a leading beacon in the region for
international protection' in public while privately pleading with the
government not to go ahead because it fears a humanitarian catastrophe
UGANDA: Kizza Besigye on treason
charge as opposition steps up protests
Supporters of opposition leader Kizza
Besigye, now being held in Moroto
near the border with South Sudan
after being charged with treason, have
vowed to intensify their campaign against President Yoweri Museveni's
government. They claim Museveni's February re-election as president was
Security officials arrested Besigye on 11 May after a mock inauguration
ceremony was organised to swear him in as president. The fake ceremony
was particularly embarrassing to Museveni, as it took place the day
before his official presidential inauguration.
In a sign of deteriorating diplomatic relations, several Western
ambassadors walked out of Museveni's inauguration speech after he
referred to the International Criminal Court as a 'useless
organisation'. He has also made a point of inviting Sudan's President
Omer Hassan el Beshir,
indicted by the ICC on genocide charges, to the
SOUTH AFRICA: Claims that Zuma
plans to arrest finance minister rattle markets
Frantic denials by President Jacob Zuma's office of a press report on
15 May that the arrest of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was planned
has failed to calm markets. The rand fell to a two-month low against
the dollar and interest rates on government bonds rose sharply today.
The reports carried in the mass circulation Sunday Times had said a
special police unit, the Hawks, was waiting for approval from Zuma to
arrest Gordhan for his role in setting up a surveillance unit to track
down tax evaders.
A proxy battle between Gordhan and Zuma, who appointed some key
loyalists to run the Hawks unit, has been rumbling over recent months.
Some of the irregularities discovered by the surveillance unit are
thought to relate to Zuma's personal business affairs.
GAMBIA/SENEGAL: Little progress
on border talks as Jammeh cracks down
harder on dissidents
Banjul's political and economic crisis looks set to worsen after
initial talks between Gambian and Senegalese
officials on reopening
their mutual border, closed for three months, have made little
progress. A joint statement issued today said that talks would resume
no later than the end of July but that could further damage the
economic situation in Gambia.
Over 40 activists from the opposition United Democratic Party are being
held and protests are growing increasing despite violence meted out by
security officers. On 15 May, the police charged six women with
unlawful assembly and inciting violence against President Yahya
Jammeh's regime. In power for 22 years, accused of killing
oppositionists and grand corruption, Jammeh is facing his most serious
threat to date.