This week, there could be more political fall-out from the Och-Ziff corruption case in the United States and Africa. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's Independence day speech in Abuja will trigger more financial negotiations. France is leading calls for an international investigation, after Amnesty International claimed the Sudan government has been using chemical weapons. Allies of Mauritiania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz are trying to get him a third term in power. And the US is to build a drone base in Agadez, in the centre of Niger Republic.
Och-Ziff corruption case drags in President Kabila's political and
The US$413 million plea bargain deal between New
Capital Management and the US Department of Justice, announced on 29
September, could trigger fresh probes into politicians in Kinshasa,
Libreville and Harare as well as into companies such as Israel-based
Dan Gertler International (DGI) and Swiss-based
Both DGI and Glencore were involved in deals in Congo-Kinshasa in which
state assets were undervalued by as much as $1.35 billion between 2010
and 2012 according to the Africa Progress Panel run by Kofi Annan, the
former UN Secretary General. Both companies deny wrongdoing.
Sources close to the Department of Justice say investigations
target businesspeople and officials working alongside Och-Ziff. New
details in the Och-Ziff case about the sale of undervalued assets from
Congo to foreign companies come as President Joseph Kabila faces
mounting pressure to step down at the end of his second term on 20
Opposition protests against Kabila's plans to extend his rule
spreading. Over 50 people were killed in clashes last month and western
states such as France and the US have called on Kabila to respect the
constitution. Yet on 1 October, Congo’s electoral commission announced
that it expected the presidential election to be delayed for two years.
NIGERIA: Independence day
speech talks up investment but raises questions on
Boko Haram devastation
In an upbeat Independence day speech on 1 October, President
Buhari said the government was preparing to hire 'several hundreds of
thousands' of new workers after investing some N750 bn. (US$2.4 bn.)
in public works programmes.
The government will continue negotiations, Buhari added, with
in the Niger Delta whose attacks this year have cut oil production from
an average of 2.2 mn. barrels a day to just over a mn. b/d.
This month, Finance Minister Kemi
Adeosun is to open discussions with
international investors about floating a eurobond. Officials in Abuja
say the latest deal between oil producers to cut production will boost
Apart from trying to fix the country's worst recession for two
Buhari's government is being asked to respond more determinedly to the
starvation and disease in north-east Nigeria in the aftermath of Boko
Haram's jihadist insurgency.
United Nations agencies reckon some 2.6 mn. people were
displaced by the
insurgency and another 2.2 mn. were trapped in areas once under
control. So far the UN effort to provide food and medicines for people
caught in the war zone has raised only a quarter of the $740 mn. that
urgently needed. Last month, Mercy Corps reported that about 800,000
people are staying in burned out villages or impromptu camps in Borno
State, which saw some of the worst of the fighting.
SUDAN/UNITED NATIONS: Calls
for probe into claims that Khartoum used chemical weapons
France has called for an international investigation into reports that
the Sudan government has launched at least 30 attacks with chemical
weapons in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur this year. Amnesty
International, which released its report on 30 September, estimates
that up to 250 people could have been killed by chemical weapons
attacks in Sudan this year. It says the most recent attack was on 9
Sudan's Foreign Minister, told the New
that the government didn’t use 'chemical weapons in populated areas'.
In response to a follow up question, Ghandour added that the government
had not used chemical weapons anywhere '…not at all.'
The report points to the weakness of the 20,000-strong
mission in Darfur run jointly by the United Nations and African Union.
The mission has been repeatedly denied permission by the Sudan
government to go to the Jebel Marra area. UN officials say that some
100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Darfur this year
MAURITANIA: Bid by President
Abdelaziz to end term limits
The latest president seeking to change his country's constitution to
extend his stay in power is Mauritania's Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz who
told a national forum in Nouakchott on 30 September that such changes
would be put to a referendum.
Abdel Aziz, who played a leading role in the military coup in
survived sanctions by both the African Union and the European Union for
overthrowing an elected government. Then the sanctions were lifted
after Abdel Aziz retired from the army and stood as a candidate in
presidential elections in 2009.
Washington to build drone base at Agadez
Pentagon officials in Washington have confirmed plans to build a $50
mn. drone base in Agadez, in the centre of Niger. The US and France
jointly run an air base in Niamey which provides support to Operation
Barkhane, a regional anti-terror force. Barkhane has been launching
counter-attacks against jihadist groups in Mali, Niger, Chad and
The US drone base in Agadez, described as Washington’s biggest military
project this year in Africa, will have the capacity to hit targets and
mount surveillance operations across the Sahel and up into Libya.