Monday, 12 December 2016

GHANA: Jobs for youth are top priority says victorious Akufo-Addo

We start in Ghana where last week's well-run elections brought Nana Akufo-Addo the presidency and an orderly transition is under way. Much less orderly is Gambia where Yahya Jammeh has changed his mind about accepting electoral defeat and has triggered a security and political crisis. Outrage is growing in Nigeria after over 160 worshippers died after a church collapsed in the south-east. Tricky negotiations lie ahead to shore up the United Nations' operations in South Sudan and Libya. And there is yet another delay to the indirect presidential elections in Somalia.

GHANA: Jobs for youth are top priority says victorious Akufo-Addo
Political rivalries were put to one side temporarily as a smiling President John Mahama met President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo on 11 December to inaugurate their transition teams at International Conference Centre in Accra. Two days earlier Charlotte Osei, Chairwoman of the Electoral Commission, had proclaimed Akufo-Addo victor with 53.8% of the votes. Akufo-Addo's New Patriotic Party also won a majority of over 70 seats in the national parliament.

Akufo-Addo has signalled that creating jobs for the nation's youth and stabilising the economy will be the top priorities for his government. He repeated his pledge to appoint an independent State Prosecutor's office which would be run by an official with broad national support. There would be no partisan witch-hunts, he insisted.

However, it is likely that several oil, gas, electric power and infrastructure contracts will come under scrutiny. Senior officials in the incoming government have said they are poor value for money.
The transition teams of the outgoing National Democratic Congress and the incoming NPP will be led respectively by Julius Debrah, Mahama’s chief of staff, and Yaw Osafo-Maafo, a former finance minister. They will preside over an audit of state assets, negotiation of end-of-service benefits for retiring state functionaries and the detailed mechanisms – ministry by ministry – of the handover process. Akufo-Addo is due to be sworn in on 7 January.


GAMBIA: Jammeh rejects election defeat and appeals to Supreme Court
The country has been thrown into confusion following Yahya Jammeh's rejection of his defeat in the 1 December national elections. Although Jammeh had initially accepted his defeat, on 9 December he announced – without any supporting evidence – that the elections had been tarnished with irregularities.

Fresh elections would have to be organised with a 'god-fearing' head of the electoral commission, Jammeh insisted. However, Adama Barrow, the announced winner of the elections, has said the country would not accept Jammeh's plan.

Pressure is mounting on Jammeh following condemnation of his latest move from the African Union Commission and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The latest news from Banjul is that Jammeh will appeal against his defeat in the elections to the Supreme Court, a body of which he has exercised strong political control during his 22-year-rule.


NIGERIA: Calls for full investigation after over 160 die in church collapse
Angry survivors and relatives of the more than 160 people killed after the collapse of the roof of the Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, south-eastern Nigeria are calling for a full investigation into the disaster on 10 December. They had gathered to attend the consecration of the church’s founder, Akan Weeks, as a bishop. The local press has claimed Weeks ignored safety warnings. Weeks and Akwa Ibom state governor Udom Emmanuel escaped without serious injury.

In December 2014, 116 died when a guest house owned by Pastor T B Joshua's Synagogue of All Nations collapsed. State officials have been trying to prosecute Joshua, one of the richest and most influential church leaders in Africa, and his trustees for negligence but their efforts have been snared in a tortuous legal battle.


SOUTH SUDAN: UN force struggles to get support despite warnings of risk of genocide
Although the United Nations Security Council is set to renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan before its expiry on 15 December, it is struggling to get financial and military backing for a more robust mission. The force has been much criticised after its failures to prevent killings and rapes by government soldiers earlier this year. Governments in the region are either distracted by their own or other crises, and the leadership transitions in train at the UN and African Union seemed to have weakened their response. Added to this, President Salva Kiir's government in South Sudan has been trying hard to block a more effective Regional Protection Force. The force urgently needs another 1,000 soldiers. Kenya is pulling out of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) following the dismissal for incompetence of its general commanding the mission. Ethiopia, which has been pulling back troops from Somalia because of its own domestic pressures, may be unwilling to fill the vacuum in South Sudan.


LIBYA: UN role in question as fighting continuesThis month the United Nations Security Council is also due to debate the renewal the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) led by Martin Kobler, the former head of the UN’s mission in Congo-Kinshasa. Although UNSC members are likely to extend the mission's mandate, which is due to expire on 31 December, they have grave reservations about its chances of success. Although Kobler was effective in Congo-Kinshasa getting substantial diplomatic support for his role there, in Libya he has been outflanked by the regional rivalries which have undermined the UN efforts to support the Government of National Accord.

With Egypt and the United Arab Emirates backing the nationalist forces of General Khalifa Haftar in the east, and Qatar and others backing sundry Islamist militias, the UN efforts have often been sidelined. The UN may lose yet more relevance after Donald Trump, a strong backer of President Abdel Fatah el Sisi's goverment in Egypt, takes over as United States President in January.


SOMALIA: Presidential election could be delayed until January
The latest developments in Mogadishu, including partisan ructions and a spate of deadly suicide bomber attacks, look likely to hold up the emergence of a new President in Somalia until 10 January at the earliest. It will be the indirectly-elected new parliament in Mogadishu which will choose the President. The lower house of parliament is likely to elect its Speaker by the end of this month. And members of the Upper House of the parliament are yet to be elected.

Despite this drawn-out and cumbersome process, the favourite to win the Presidency, through the support of the new parliament, is incumbent, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. At the end of it, however, he will claim more formal legitimacy than any of his predecessors.

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