2015 elections in Nigeria: good intentions vs. power politics

Are good intentions enough to guarantee peaceful elections in Nigeria?

The All Progressives Congress on Sunday said a pre-election meeting between the party and the Peoples Democratic Party was necessary to ensure violence-free polls in 2015.

The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, asked the Federal Government to take all necessary measures to ensure that the elections are free and fair, noting that rigging triggers anger and violence.

‘’Even with the little time left for the elections to hold, we strongly believe that a meeting of the leadership of the two political parties, the APC and the PDP, will send a powerful message to our compatriots and, indeed, the international community and douse the tension that is building up ahead of the election,’’ the APC said.

However, the extent to which the period preceding and following the elections will be peaceful (or not) depend on APC’s interpretation of events on the ground:

“If the Federal Government allows a level playing field for all contestants, if the security agencies stop acting as the armed wing of the ruling PDP, if the electoral umpire will carry out its duties without fear, favour or bias and if citizens are allowed to exercise their franchise unmolested, the stage will be set for a non-violent, free, fair and credible polls. In other words, the government has a major role to play in making the forthcoming polls peaceful.

Read the news piece here.

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Burkina Faso: Compaore’s party pushed aside

Blaise Compaore’s party, the CDP, has been suspended by Burkina Faso’s interim government.

What will be the implications of the party’s exclusion from national politics? Will we witness a dangerous reaction by Compaore’s allies? It would have been wiser to keep the CDP in the game. History shows that excluding relevant parties may turn out to be a precursor to dangerous events.

Nigeria: An Alternative Energy Source for the European Union?

imagesRecent events in Ukraine and the threat posed by the European Union’s dependency on Russian energy—Moscow supplies a quarter of Europe’s needs for natural gas, 80% of which runs through Ukrainian territory—has led Brussels, and EU’s city-capitals, to consider alternative sources towards alleviating the dependency and thus increasing Europe’s energy security. Beyond Russia and European indigenous production— which accounts for 33% of the EU’s usage of natural gas— Europe’s five largest partners are Norway (22%), Algeria (9%), Qatar (6%) and Nigeria (2%). One can notice that the small share of Nigerian natural gas out of the total European imports does not correspond to Abuja’s real capacity and potential in becoming a strategic energy partner.
In fact, the Nigerian government aspires to do just that. On the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the EU-OPEC energy dialogue, which took place in Brussels in June 2014, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said “[t]he Federal Government restated its resolve to support the long term gas supply security for the European Union countries as part of measures to expand the nation’s gas market”.
This strategic approach towards the European market is, on the one hand, a sign that the government in Abuja recognizes Europe’s energy market potential— the EU’s aspiration to diversify energy sources has motivated such an approach— and, on the other hand, is a product of recent developments in the global natural gas market. Among these developments the United States’ shift to the domestic exploration of shale gas, and Mozambique’s affirmation as a major player in the natural gas market are key. Being one of the most promising African countries, in terms of energy, the fact that Mozambique is located on the Indian Ocean’s shoreline has driven Asian powers to increasingly focus their attentions towards Maputo. Also worth noting is that Asia currently represents Nigeria’s main natural gas export market.
For Nigeria, satisfying European natural gas needs implies an increase in the production of the resource. With that purpose in mind, Abuja has in motion plans to build additional LNG production infrastructures—apart from Bonny LNG, the only one currently in operation—such as the Olokola LNG, the Brass LNG and the Train 7 at Bonny LNG. To make these projects operational, the government must put an end to the constant delays and settle the years-long stalemate over the Petroleum Industry Bill. Failing to overcome these obstacles may result in Nigeria losing ground to international competition.
Among the potential major beneficiaries of Nigeria’s strategic shift are Portugal and Spain. While Lisbon and Madrid are already the two largest European importers of natural gas sourced in Nigeria, they also belong to the small group of EU countries that do not import Russian gas. Since they don’t depend on energy from Russia, Lisbon and Madrid will have, at least in principle, a greater margin of manoeuvre in fomenting deeper ties between the EU and Nigeria. That will require, however, grand investments in terms of infrastructure construction and development—something which poses a considerable obstacle. Equally relevant is the fact that the Nigerian alternative is not risk-free regarding Europe’s goal of attaining energy security, in particular when considering piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the fragile stability and security in the Niger Delta.
Despite the focus on LNG, Nigeria also intends to bolster gas exports to Europe by building the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline (TSGP) that will connect the Niger Delta—home to the bulk of Nigeria’s gas reserves— to Algeria, and on to Europe via already existent gas pipelines. It is estimated that the TSGP will cost $20 billion. According to the feasibility report, the TSGP will be more competitive than the GNL option, since operational costs will be inferior and waste less natural gas. The report adds that the pipeline’s “critical advantage” is the ability to supply gas to African regions that are often affected by high energy prices and desertification.
Nevertheless, despite the alleged advantage in terms of costs, the project’s development faces several obstacles. To start with, finding the $20 billion dollars to finance the TSGP will be a difficult task. Secondly, some militant groups in the Niger Delta oppose the allocation of funds for the project before the economic and social problems in the region are properly dealt with. Thirdly, some analysts believe that the quantities carried by the gas pipeline will exceed European demand. Lastly, the region through which the pipeline crosses includes extremely volatile centres of instability. Adding to these factors, the Russian energy company Gazprom has a stake in the pipeline project. Hence, importing gas via a company in which Gazprom has interests goes against the EU’s goal of reducing dependency on Russian energy.
In short, to diversify energy sources implies widening the number of energy suppliers. As such, Nigeria appears to be a viable option and a potential strategic partner that would contribute to European energy security. In fact, when weighing the variables at stake it becomes clear that the GNL option is more advantageous to Europe than the TSGP. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to completely exclude from the equation the risk posed by instability in Nigeria. The social and political tensions are far from becoming things from the past. Having said this, the risk factors and the opportunities will not fail to be taken into account by the EU in its interaction with Abuja.

Read the original article on ipris.org: Nigeria: An Alternative Energy Source for the European Union?

Burkina Faso: A Complex Transition to Power is in the Making

A man holds up a placard that reads in French, "Zida get out", refering to Isaac Zida, a presidential guard officer named by the military to lead the country's transition, during a protest at the Place de la Nation in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou on Sunday against military rule. (AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO)

(AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO)

Blaise Compaoré’s demise, following 27 years at the helm of Burkina Faso, was a show of popular resilience and strength. A growing civil society and an active political opposition played an important part in organizing and mobilizing demonstrations. This development will likely resonate beyond Burkina Faso and reach other nations led by individuals who have managed to overturn or ignore constitutions for years.
Surely, a new generation of young Africans, who comprise the majority of the population in the continent and who did not experience the anti-colonial wars, have given rise to a new kind of Africa with a greater sense of liberty, democratic values and rule of law. They represent a growing middle class that prizes access to near-instantaneous information from the Internet and mobile phones. These young, knowledgeable and better-off young Africans are thus better able and prepared to demonstrate their disillusionment and disgruntlement against ruling elites, making their voices powerful enough to be decisive in the survival odds of a regime. Undoubtedly, Compaoré’s demise portrays it.
While Compaoré’s fall from grace after nearly three decades marks a fundamental shift in sub-Saharan Africa’s historical record—some may say it can become the trigger to an Arab Spring-like revolution—the immediate aftermath of this event raises some doubts over whether anything will change at all. Since independence, the armed forces have acted as the primary game changers across sub-Saharan African, often by launching frequent coups d’état. The armed forces often justify toppling a regime by upholding the goals of protecting the nation and guaranteeing the well being of its people, although private interests are normally at its core. Was Burkina Faso the exception? Was Compaoré ousted by a popular uprising? Or was the ‘usual suspect’ behind it? The answer is Compaoré resigned due to the popular protests and the anti-establishment violence that ensued. Nevertheless, the revolution seems to have been hijacked by the military.
President Compaoré’s October 31 resignation followed the largest popular demonstrations and violence in the country since 2011. This was motivated by Compaoré’s intention to make the Parliament approve a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for another term in the November 2015 elections. In the capital, Ouagadougou, protesters set the National Assembly ablaze, and targeted other government buildings. The protests spread to other parts of the country, including the second largest city. In a first reaction to the popular upheaval, Compaoré dissolved the government and the Parliament, offered negotiations to his adversaries in order to form a transitional government headed by himself to pave the way to the 2015 elections, for which he would not run. The proposal was met with indifference by the opposition, who continued demanding his resignation.
Just before Compaoré’s announcement an army spokesman told demonstrators in the capital that President Compaoré was no longer in power, and a few hours later General Honoré Nabéré Traoré, the chief of staff of Burkina Faso’s armed forces and a Compaoré loyalist, announced in a press conference he had assumed the functions of head of state. Surprisingly, later in the evening, Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida, second in command of the presidential guard, said in a radio broadcast that he had “taken things in hand” and, distancing himself from the armed forces command, affirmed Traoré’s claim as “obsolete”. Zida also announced the creation of a new “body of transition” and the suspension of the Constitution. In addition, he stated that he would assume the “responsibilities of transition leader and head of state” and attempt to define in a “consensual manner (…) and with all the political parties and organizations of civil society, the contours and content of a peaceful democratic transition”. Lieutenant Colonel Zida was unanimously elected by the military hierarchy to lead the transition period.
The announcement that the army was to lead the transition government was the moment when hopes for a civilian takeover went bust. In the words of a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups “the victory of the popular uprising—and consequently the management of the transition—belongs to the people and should not in any way be confiscated by the army”.
The army’s power grab is certainly a bad sign for Burkina Faso’s democratic prospects. However, the situation gets bleaker considering the close links the new leadership has to Compaoré. In fact, it is perceived that what changed is just the figurehead, while everything else remains the same—same policies and priorities. Rumors have it that Zida’s appointment was a political manoeuver by Compaoré. That isn’t too far-fetched. For Compaoré, who according to Zida moved to Côte d’Ivoire, returning to Burkina Faso without firm control over the authorities and, most importantly, lacking the endorsement of the US and France as a vital security player in the region, would pose a threat to his integrity. In fact, to return under such conditions would certainly remove his immunity from prosecution for a number of accusations, including charges that he was complicit in the assassination of Thomas Sankara, supplied arms and troops to fight UN peacekeepers in Sierra Leone in exchange for diamonds, had links to the 2002 rebellion in Côte d’Ivoire, and dealt in the diamond trade during Angola’s civil war. Moreover, losing grip over the country would also probably mean losing the vast business interests Compaoré and his family hold in the country.
One of the few positive developments in the aftermath of Compaoré’s demise was the army’s swift agreement over who would take charge. That joint decision itself has in principle averted the possibility of an all out war between military factions, thus guaranteeing the valuable relative peace and stability that the country has enjoyed for the last three decades. Considering this, although the international community is calling for the Constitution to be respected, it surely recognizes that this is not the worst possible scenario. Despite all of Compaoré’s wrongdoings, the international community, namely France and the US, have had in Compaoré’s regime a strategic and reliable ally in the region. Not only has the regime played a vital role in monitoring and resolving sources of conflict in West Africa, the Sahel and the Sahara—worth noting Compaoré’s mediating role in northern Mali, in particular in initiating talks with Ansar Dine, and in negotiations to free Western hostages held by the jihadists groups—but soldiers from Burkina Faso have had a regular presence in UN peacekeeping missions in the continent. Therefore, having the military at the helm of the country should guarantee the continuation of Compaoré’s policies on terrorism and cooperation with the West. In sum, it seems that for now France and the US will keep one of its major allies in the region.
However, international and domestic pressure for the return to constitutional order highlights the need for Burkina Faso’s international partners to pressure transitional authorities towards ceding power to a civilian body. In order to satisfy the international community’s security interests, and also to answer calls for the return to constitutional order, some sort of equilibrium must be attained. That quest is clearly favored by the joint mission of the UN, AU and ECOWAS in the country. While emphasizing “the important role that Burkina Faso plays and will continue to play in efforts to ensure global peace and security as well as political stability within the region and the continent at large, particularly with its active participation in peace keeping and mediation processes”, the joint mission also affirmed its readiness “to work with all stakeholders to ensure a rapid return to the respect of constitutional norms”.
If one can learn anything out of recent transitions from military to civilian rule in West Africa it is that pressure by ECOWAS, in collaboration with other regional and international organizations, can have an impact. For example, in Guinea-Bissau the international community, via ECOWAS, managed to pressure the military junta that took power following the 2012 military coup towards holding elections in early 2014. The military accepted the results and a civilian government took charge of the country. The coup leader who pulled the strings during the transition period was exonerated and the situation seems to have stabilized. In the case of Burkina Faso, things seem to be even more favorable for a positive outcome. The country’s armed forces have had for decades a close relationship with the US and France, and benefited from large flows of aid—which often translated into personal gains—especially military assistance. Thus, in a show of force towards a transition to civilian rule, both France and the US threatened to cut off aid to the country. Moreover, as a State Department official stated, “it doesn’t appear at this moment that the new transitional government would seek to turn a shoulder to the US or any Western partner” as they will want to keep the threats that have been ravaging its neighborhood at bay. Taking this into consideration, exerting the right amount of pressure on the military may expedite the transfer of power to civilian rule while also maintaining the army’s loyalty to Western interests.
Lieutenant Colonel Zida stated that the military has not taken the helm of the country to “usurp power and to sit in place and run the country but to help the country come out of this situation”, thus showing an apparent strong resolve to respect domestic and international pleas for respect for the Constitution. Surprisingly or not, Zida made it clear that “the executive powers will be led by a transitional body but within a constitutional framework that we will watch over carefully”. This last statement indicates that the army does not intend to completely step aside from politics, while also signaling that the chosen leader will have to be borne out of a consensus. Such a consensus depends therefore on the military, political parties and the international community’s interests, i.e. France and the US.
Surely, the West cannot afford to have a new government with foreign policy views radically different from that of Compaoré’s regime. That would mean losing a main ally in a turbulent and volatile region. Considering this, it seems that the solution would be the election of a pro-Western government. However, one should not think of Cold War style alliances of convenience in which ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Rather, it is possible to marry Western goals of security and stability in the region with the broader international community’s goals of returning the country to constitutional order. Considering the possibility that the West will use its leverage in the appointment of a new government, the question is who will be the consensual leader among the military, the political opposition and the civil society. Burkina Faso’s history has shown that political coalitions have short life spans, bringing down hopes that a political team up between opposition parties can materialize. Nonetheless, the context in Burkina Faso has changed: Compaoré is out of office after three decades, and this fact can become a unifying force.
Zéphirin Diabré, the leader of the parliamentary opposition coalition before the body was dissolved, seems to be in the pole position to lead the country. A former finance minister under Compaoré, founder of the largest opposition party, the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), and also former Deputy Director General of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), he has been the most active voice against Compaoré. Diabré met in September 2014 with Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, former president of the National Assembly and who has defected from Compaoré’s party in January 2014, also forming his own political party. The meeting aimed at strengthening relations and act together toward Compaoré’s demise and a democratic transition. In fact, Diabré’s close cooperation with the opposition was a major factor behind the successful organization of the popular demonstrations that led to Compaoré’s resignation. The question now is if collaboration among political forces is sufficiently committed in order to form a coalition capable of reaching a consensus with the military, get the international community’s endorsement, and hence put the country on the right track.
Diabré is an experienced politician and aware of the machinations within the international community. Given this, he has sought to woo international partners. In a public speech, in May 2014, Diabré declared his commitment to “tranquilize every brother countries, partners and friends of Burkina Faso” that from “democratic change (…) will result neither chaos, neither decline, nor instability and much less a civil war”. Diabré still congratulated “the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and through him President Barack Obama, for his firm stance over the respect of presidential term limits”.
Furthermore, Diabré’s most important asset in regards to Western interests may turn out to be his proximity to Paris, namely his past chairmanship of the Africa and Middle East Regions at Areva Group, a nuclear energy company owned by the French State. It may also be worth recalling that Areva was one of the main reasons behind the 2013 French military intervention in Niger.
Although Diabré is not the only one aspiring to succeed Compaoré, he is still the one who seems to be in a better position. Undoubtedly, much can happen during the forthcoming transition period, including a change in Zida’s already stated plan to quickly transfer power to civilian hands. The next few days will certainly provide a better light over who will be preferred to take up the country’s presidential seat. Despite the main doubts that cloud the transition process, one thing is certain: the military will not easily abandon its influence over the country’s affairs.

Read the original article on ipris.org: Burkina Faso: A Complex Transition to Power is in the Making

Cape Verde and Drug Trafficking: A Major Challenge to the Rule of Law

drug-trafficking-west-africaWest Africa has been affected by a range of illicit maritime activities, such as human trafficking, the smuggling of small arms and narcotics, illegal fishing and piracy. In an increasingly interconnected world the rise in these activities in the region does not solely represent a challenge to security and stability. In fact, it has profound implications for the international community, namely the EU and the US. Those activities, drug trafficking in particular, are a major source of income not only for drug cartels in Latin America, but also for jihadi groups in West Africa, the Sahel and the Maghreb, thus threatening international security and stability.
Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde are two drug trafficking hubs in West Africa. While this is hardly a surprise in the case of Guinea-Bissau—some regard it as world’s first narco-state, Cape Verde has been away from the spotlight. The difference can partly be explained by the fact that Guinea-Bissau has become a main transit point of drug shipments to land-routes towards the Maghreb and Europe, therefore representing an apparent more immediate threat to the international community, while Cape Verde is a transit point between Latin America and the African continent.
Cape Verde, despite being considered a case of success in the continent in terms of socioeconomic development and democratic resilience, has faced recurrent difficulties regarding financing and capacity-building of its security forces, which, added to the fact that the archipelago is located in the route between Latin America and West Africa, makes the country extremely appealing for drug traffickers.
Cape Verde’s increasing relevance in the expansion of drug trafficking led to the inauguration in 2010 of the Maritime Security Operations Center (COSMAR) in the country’s capital, Praia. Financed by the US, COSMAR enables a more efficient collaboration between national agencies responsible for monitoring and controlling illicit activities along the territory. It facilitates the planning of joint operations with other nations. Among other benefits, COSMAR provides access to radar and satellite images. This is the second such center in Africa, the other being based in Morocco and focused on the Mediterranean region. Cape Verde’s choice to be the host for COSMAR indicates the country’s increasing centrality in international drug trafficking routes.
Drug trafficking clearly undermines the rule of law. In a recent interview, Cape Verde’s ambassador to the UN, Fernando Wahnon, alluded to the threat represented by the spread of drug consumption in the country, and also the greater risk of corruption among the authorities. In his words: “These [criminal] organizations’ power of corruption is immense. In a vulnerable state such as Cape Verde [criminal organizations] threaten the rule of law and the institutions themselves”.
Therefore, it is clear that Cape Verde’s democratic institutions must be robustly supported. Under this line of thought, in 2005 Cape Verde became the third country to join the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US-backed programme aimed at promoting economic growth in countries that abide by certain criteria of good governance. Cape Verde also managed to become the first African country to complete the programme, and in 2012 signed a second governance pact.
Often regarded as a democratic example in the continent, Cape Verde has been a relevant vector in Washington’s strategy for the region’s security and stability. Of equal importance, it is considered an important piece in the US campaign against international terrorism. The small African archipelago is not only a center of stability in a volatile region, but also enjoys a strategic location in the South Atlantic. To lose Cape Verde to drug trafficking would be a strategic nightmare for the US and Europe.
Coincidence or not, the new US ambassador to Cape Verde, Donald L. Heflin, previously served as the first official and general-consul at the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo. Located in the border with the US, Nuevo Laredo is known for the drug trafficking and bloody clashes between rival drug cartels. Heflin also held high positions in Africa. However, it is his experience in Nuevo Laredo that makes his nomination to Cape Verde an interesting development. In his testimony to the Senate, Heflin could not have been clearer: “The United States and Cabo Verde are partners on a number of important matters. Among them, maritime security and transnational crime are key. The Government of Cabo Verde strongly supports counter-narcotics maneuvers and is a gracious host to U.S. ship visits. Cabo Verde is a model in the region for strategic partnership”.
As Fernando Wahnon affirmed, “Cape Verde’s inability to monitor its economic zone lures organized crime”. Without means and resources “it would be impossible to do it alone.” He concluded that in order to “try to overcome the difficulties [it is necessary] to initiate joint operations with other countries”. In the absence of support programmes for maritime monitoring (COSMAR) and socioeconomic development (MCC), Cape Verde would possibly place its democratic regime and rule of law at risk. That does not necessarily mean that the island nation will follow in the footsteps of neighboring Guinea-Bissau. Nonetheless, it is important not to let everything that was achieved in recent years go to waste due to drug trafficking.
Like the US, Portugal should strengthen cooperation with Cape-Verdean authorities in the fight against drug trafficking. The new Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP) 2015/2017, which will soon be signed by both countries, will surely reflect this.

Read the original article on ipris.org: Cape Verde and Drug Trafficking: A Major Challenge to the Rule of Law

Angola’s role in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a unique opportunity

(Ifoto/Village Urugwiro)

(Ifoto/Village Urugwiro)

Angola has for the second time in its history secured a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC). In all likelihood, the 2015/2016 mandate will grant Luanda a more active voice in the defense of national interests, in particular on matters related to the Gulf of Guinea and the Great Lakes. It is also worth noting that in January 2014 Angola assumed the rotating presidency of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). The simultaneous presence in the UNSC and ICGLR adds greater diplomatic visibility and represents a relevant window of opportunity. If Angola’s interests over the Gulf of Guinea generically fall on commercial and economic matters, driven by the threat posed by the piracy phenomena, those related to the Great Lakes region have a more multidimensional nature, making this region of tantamount strategic importance.
Recent events in the Great Lakes region, namely the UN offensive approach against rebels in eastern DRC – in 2013 the UN mission’s mandate in the east of the country was extended and an unprecedented “intervention brigade” was created through Resolution 2098 – mean that presence in the UNSC and the ICGLR presidency places Luanda at the front line of security-related matters concerning Kinshasa. In fact, the Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, has a clear notion of the danger and threat posed by a weak and insecure DRC government, and he knows the need for an active role in the fight against the rebels is of vital importance.
On October 20, 2014, Luanda hosted a ministerial defense meeting between the CIRGL and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). One of the focal points was the progress in the disarmament process of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group active in the east of the DRC and comprised of mostly ethnic Hutu Rwandans, many of whom were involved in the 1994 genocide. Considering the slow progress, the ministers reiterated the need for military action in case the January 2015 deadline is not obeyed. Given Angola’s interests in the country, and the leading role in the ICGLR and UNSC, it is worth asking: What would be Luanda’s role in a military intervention?
The recent strengthening of bilateral relations between Angola and Rwanda should in theory allow for a quick understanding over a joint military action. This is in fact crucial since both countries are two of the most militarily capable nations in the region and, equally important, with probably the greatest interest in the rebel group’s elimination. Moreover, joint action would substantially increase the mission’s military, logistical, financial and material capabilities, at the same time guaranteeing better preparation over the stabilization process in a post-FDLR scenario.
Conversely, in the absence of a regional military intervention it is highly likely that Rwanda will initiate a unilateral operation in eastern DRC. Under this scenario, the resulting instability would have negative implications for regional cooperation, and it would also represent a step back in the ongoing deepening of relations between Kigali and Kinshasa. Luanda’s aim of regional stability would be severely hampered.
The prompt launch of an eventual military operation is contingent on political will and also on strong leadership of a government that is committed to putting pressure on regional actors. Equally relevant is the fact that the intervention will in principle have the support of the international community, which until recently had failed to undertake concrete and concerted actions aimed at tackling instability in the DRC. On the one hand, international support provides international legitimacy to the military intervention while, on the other hand, it goes along with the aim of securing “African solutions for African problems”. This is therefore a significant opportunity for the continent in the sense that it represents a milestone in emancipating itself from external meddling.
In the event of intervention and the suppression of the FDLR, Luanda would emerge as a key-actor in the mediation and resolution of conflicts in the African continent. Nevertheless, Angola’s gains are not limited to this. In fact, Luanda’s goal of diversifying the Angolan economy relies on stability in the DRC. The railway that connects the Lobito port in Angola’s Atlantic coast to the border with the DRC may turn out to be a strategic means of transport for the outflow of minerals sourced in the Congolese eastern province of Katangafamous for its vast cobalt and copper deposits. In other words, apart from security challenges, greater instability in eastern DRC will clash with Luanda’s economic interests and plans.
Furthermore, regional stability does not only depend on military campaigns to tackle rebel groups. The reintegration of thousands of Rwandan FDLR fighters is vital for the sustainability of the DRC’s peace and stability. Such a task will be hard and complex to undertake. Nonetheless, Angola may play an important part in the process. Authorities in Luanda can collaborate with their Rwandan counterparts in adapting the reintegration programme of former Angolan fighters to the FDLR context. Accordingly, Luanda has a unique opportunity to leave its mark, not only as a central actor in the suppression of rebel groups, but also in the reintegration of former fighters. It is exactly in this role as peace and security provider in the region where Angola may take the greatest advantages and benefits of its presence in the UNSC.


Read the original article on ipris.org: Angola’s role in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a unique opportunity

Oil discovered in the Atlantic off coast of Morocco

A major breakthrough for the Moroccan economy?

Arcana Intellego

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 15:35

If the oil deposits are valuable enough, Morocco may require to a deep sea drilling platformIf the oil deposits are valuable enough, Morocco may require to a deep sea drilling platform

There are clear indications that oil has been discovered off the coast of Sidi Ifni, a city in southern Morocco, the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Minerals revealed.

According to a statement, this discovery was made with the help of three oil companies: Genel Energy, Serica Energy and San Leon. The oil was detected on October 16 and is said to be located 59 kilometres off the coast of Sidi Ifni. Exploration projects began in the area last July.

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