FLASH! Conde Forced to Do About-Face on His Political Trial of the Opposition Scheduled for Thursday

A_DixinnOne of several opposition marches in Guinea over the last two years –now this is a mandate!

Yesterday, Guinea Oye reported that all leaders of all opposition parties had been summoned to the court in Dixinn this coming Thursday to answer charges of “civil liability” for damages associated with violence and destruction of property during the February 27 opposition march.

Well, today, Conde is forced to do an about-face. Ibrahima Beavogui, communications director for the Ministry of Justice, announced that the convocation scheduled for Thursday is cancelled and that, instead, the legal process will continue with perpetrators to be dealt with on an individual basis.

So what happened between yesterday and today? A virtual avalanche of criticism from the West and three West African presidents, Alassane Ouattara of the Ivory Coast, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, and Ernest Bai Kormoa of Sierra Leone, who visited with Conde yesteday under the guise of Mano River issues and Mali.

One can imagine the three presidents sitting at a table and drawing the picture for Conde. A courtroom filled with the leadership of the opposition being harangued by a judge for every petty crime the government could dream up, The drawing also includes a view of outside the court house where hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters are gathered in anger over the audacity of the government. And, yes, along the edges of the huge crowd stand police and gendarmes with their trigger fingers itching.

As has happened ever since Conde came to office, he treats his political opposition as if they were enemies of the state. This is how it goes with guys like Conde who steal their elections and lack a true mandate to govern.

Looks like Conde is the mad man of West Africa, his three neighbors don’t want his barbaric governance to spill across their borders, and the rest of the international community is taking the temperature of business investors trying to figure out next steps.

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Former British PM Tony Blair Picks Guinea to Participate in His Africa Governance Initiative

Blair touts Guinea’s “return of democracy” and Conde’s ability to solve problems as reasons for choosing Guinea to participate.  Actually, Guinea was chosen for the Africa Governance Initiative for the same reason as the other three participants — RESOURCES.  The question continues to be:  How will the AGI benefit the people of Guinea?

Guinea to Join Africa Governance Initiative

Africa Governance Initiative – Guinea will soon join the Africa Governance Initiative headed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and which includes Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda, PANA learnt from well-informed sources here. A team of technicians and advisers of Africa Governance Initiative is expected in Guinea, the only French-speaking country picked for the initiative by Tony Blair and his staff, to help authorities develop and implement government priorities, with a view to attracting funds to development projects. In this respect, Rwandan President Paul Kagame will embark on a ‘working visit’ to Guinea to discuss with his counterpart, Alpha Conde, the benefits of the structure.

‘I was attracted by the vision of the new president Conde for his country. He can help resolve problems with his rigor and also by the return of democracy in Guinea that had experienced a long period of political instability like the other three countries where branches of my structure already settled,’ Blair said.

Mr Blair said his ambition for Africa prompted him to invest in the structure, which aims to promote African countries that are on the path towards democracy.

Pana 17/06/2011

Sierra Leone President, Koroma, Wants ‘Acceptable’ Elections in Guinea

President Koroma Wants ‘Acceptable’ Elections in Guinea

H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma during a recent one-day visit to neighboring Guinea held discussions with Guinean journalists on electoral process in Guinea during which he called for election  run-off results that should be acceptable to all sides. President Koroma said he was impressed with the Guinean electoral process so far but urged the Transitional Military regime to ensure that the hiccups which plagued the first round of voting are addressed to lay the foundation upon which transparent, free, fair, credible, and acceptable final results would be built.
He told Guinean newsmen that ahead of the forthcoming run-off elections slated for 19th September 2010, he thought it wise to pay a visit to the people of Guinea in order to congratulate and urge a fair and peaceful conduct of the forthcoming run-off elections.
“We know it has not been easy, but we are pleased with the positive steps. So we are here to support and solidarize with you” President Koroma said following which he commended the acting President of Guinea who is Military Leader Konate.
The Sierra Leonean Leader further said the electioneering process “also manifests the determination of the Guinean people to exercise their civil and political rights in determining their political leaders.”
President Koroma also emphasized that the democratization of Guinea is of particular importance to peace, stability, security, good governance & the development of  ECOWAS region generally, & Mano River Union (MRU) sub-region in particular.
The Sierra Leone President visited alongside Presidents of Liberia and Ivory Coast. The visit was an initiative of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who currently chairs MRU.

Konate to Pay Courtesy Call on Sierra Leone’s President Koroma

Monday, July 12th, 2010 | Written by Ahmed M Kamara

Guinean leader to pay courtesy call on Sierra Leone’s President Koroma

General Sekouba Konate – Will visit Sierra Leone

General Sekouba Konate, the interim Head of State of the republic of Guinea, will pay a courtesy call on his Sierra Leone counterpart, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Tuesday.  General Konate will call on the Sierra Leone President at his official state house premises where it is expected they will discuss matters of bilateral relations between the two countries. General Konate will also be conveying his government’s gratitude for the pivotal role the Sierra Leone leader played in ensuring Guinea’s stability and peaceful transition of power during the recent elections, and would urge the Head of State to provide more needed support in the forthcoming run-off of the elections expected to take place at the end of this month

President Ernest Bai Koroma has been very instrumental in establishing a credible election process in the West African State. As Guinea’s neighbour and friend, the Sierra Leone president is fully aware of the need for a stable government in Guinea, as any instability in the country will affect the entire region. He has worked with other ECOWAS heads of states in finding a lasting solution to Guinea’s recent political turmoil. President Koroma will urge the Guinean leader to continue lead his country towards the path of democratic elections and transition to civilian rule.

State Dept.’s Africa Chief, Johnnie Carson, Talks About US Priorities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Below is a transcript of Carson’s presentation.  If you wish to view the video of his presentation, click here — the Q and A session starts at  minute 24:22 where Carson is asked questions about things beyond the scope of his speech, such as AFRICOM. 

U.S. Priorities on sub-Saharan Africa

Johnnie Carson
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Remarks for the Diplomacy Briefing Series Conference
Washington, DC
June 14, 2010

Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Bureau of Public Affairs for organizing the Diplomacy Briefing Series and for inviting me to join all of you today to examine our key priorities in Africa.

I want to begin today by emphasizing the strong commitment of this Administration to working with our African partners to bring about a more peaceful, stable, and prosperous Africa. This Administration sees immense potential in Africa, and we are determined to work with Africans across the continent to help realize this promise.

Often, Africa has been overlooked as a top policy priority for the U.S. Government. I can tell you that this is not the case with this Administration. President Obama is not complacent about Africa, and is determined to forge a deeper and more lasting impact on our relationship with the continent, not just through words, but through concrete action.

As evidence of this commitment, Vice President Biden concluded just yesterday a week-long trip to Africa—a trip in which I participated. Some in the media focused on the World Cup as the centerpiece of this Africa visit, but this trip was more about substance than sport. The Vice President used this trip to focus on one of the Administration’s highest priorities in Africa: the current situation in Sudan. In Egypt, the Vice President met with President Mubarak and other senior government officials to discuss Sudan policy. In Kenya, we met with Salva Kiir, the President of the Government of South Sudan and other South Sudanese leaders. And in South Africa, I accompanied the Vice President to his extended meeting with Thabo Mbeki, the AU’s point person on Sudan.

The Vice President’s trip was just the most recent example of high-level engagement by this Administration in Africa. The President’s visit to Ghana last July, the earliest visit made by a U.S. president to the continent, underscored Africa’s importance to the U.S. And last September, at the UN General Assembly, the President hosted a lunch with 26 African heads of state. Over the past year, he has also met in the oval office with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Khama of Botswana, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai of Zimbabwe. And during the Nuclear Summit in April of this year, the President also met with President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and President Zuma of South Africa.

All of the President’s senior foreign policy advisors have followed his lead by traveling to Africa. The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice visited five African countries last June, including Liberia and Rwanda. Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew traveled to Ethiopia and Tanzania in June 2009, and was in Mali and Nigeria just last month.

Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero headed the U.S. delegation to the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in January 2010, where we discussed a range of issues, including democracy and governance, climate change, and food security. Last month, she led the U.S. delegation to Abuja to the first meeting of the Democracy and Governance working group of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission. And last August, Secretary Clinton made an 11-day, seven-country trip across the continent.

These high-level visits are a testament to the importance this Administration places on Africa, and our commitment to meet and work with our partners to address the immense challenges facing the continent. Through our engagement and programs, the Administration is seeking to advance five key policy priorities on the continent.

First: We are working with African governments, the international community, and civil society to strengthen democratic institutions and protect the democratic gains made in recent years in many African countries.

Since the 1990’s, we have witnessed an impressive wave of democratic transitions, during which dozens of African countries moved from dictatorship to democracy, in one of the most impressive political transformations in history. Recent democratic elections, including those in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, and Ghana, have served to remind the world of the importance that Africans attach to democracy, as well as the values that underpin it. The recent elections in Ghana and Mauritius were especially impressive, as they have resulted in a peaceful, democratic transition between two political parties.

Nonetheless, we have seen worrying signs of backsliding in terms of democracy and good governance in a number of countries as a result of flawed elections, harassment of opposition groups, and attempts by presidents to extend their term limits. We have also seen a recurrence of military coups and interventions in several countries.

The political and economic success of Africa depends a great deal on the effectiveness, sustainability, and reliability of its democratic institutions. We are encouraging governments across the continent to get elections right. To level the playing field, clean up the voter rolls, open up the media, count the votes fairly, and give democracy a chance.

In that vain we have been deeply engaged in helping to resolve political crises on the continent, including in Nigeria, where we encouraged political leaders to follow their constitution and stay on a democratic path and where we encouraged the military to stay in the barracks and out of politics. We have been active diplomatically in Guinea-Conakry during its difficult transition period, as well as in Niger and Mauritania over the past year.

Second: The Administration is committed to working alongside African countries to promote and advance sustained economic development and growth.

Despite impressive economic growth in recent years, Africa remains one of the poorest regions of the world, and the continent has yet to be fully integrated into the global economy. Africa’s share of world trade is less than two percent and Africa’s tremendous wealth in natural resources has not translated into greater prosperity for its people.

Africa also faces a massive digital divide with the rest of the world, which further inhibits the ability of African companies to compete on the global stage.

The Administration is bringing significant resources and programs to the table to help address these challenges. We are actively working to promote economic growth and development, including through our new $3.5 billion dollar food security initiative, Feed the Future, which will assist 12 African focus countries that are engaged in growing and modernizing their agricultural sectors. The Obama Administration will continue to work with our African partners to maximize the opportunities created by the African Growth and Opportunity Act–AGOA. We will also continue to actively explore ways to promote African private sector growth and investment, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.

Third: Historically the United States has focused on public health and health-related issues in Africa. We are committed to continuing that focus. We will work side-by-side with African governments and civil society to ensure that quality treatment, prevention, and care are easily accessible to communities throughout Africa.

From HIV/AIDS to malaria, Africans endure and suffer a multitude of health pandemics that weaken countries on many fronts. Sick men and women cannot work and they cannot contribute to the growth of their nation’s economies or well being.

To help solve the health crisis that is occurring throughout the entire continent, Africans as well as the international community must invest in Africa’s public health systems, in training more medical professionals, and in helping African countries fight diseases that simply should not kill people in this day and age.

The Obama Administration will continue the PEPFAR Program and the previous administration’s fight against HIV/AIDS. In addition to combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and polio, the Obama Administration has pledged $63 billion to meet public health challenges throughout Africa.

Fourth: The U.S. is committed to working with African states and the international community to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflicts and disputes. Conflict destabilizes states and borders, stifles economic growth and investment, and robs young Africans of the opportunity for an education and a better life. Conflicts can set back nations for a generation. Throughout Africa, there has been a notable reduction in the number of conflicts over the past decade.

The brutal conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia have come to an end, and we have seen Liberia transform itself into a democracy under the able leadership of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state. Liberia is an example of what can be accomplished in a short period of time and should give us hope for resolving other conflict situations in Africa.

Despite the successes, pockets of turmoil and political unrest persist in Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in Madagascar. These conflicts create both internal and regional instability and undermine Africa’s chances for economic growth.

The Obama Administration has taken a keen interest in working with African leaders and African regional organizations to help resolve these conflicts. Over the past 18 months, Special Presidential Envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration has been focused on ensuring the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which will permit the people of South Sudan to vote in January 2010 for independence or unity with the North. As part of our effort to ensure the referendum takes place, we are collaborating closely with the Special Envoys of the AU and UN, who will be in this building for talks on Wednesday. We are also enhancing our diplomatic presence in South Sudan by assigning ten new officers to our Consulate in Juba, including a very senior officer, a former ambassador, who will arrive in Juba in the next few days.

Former Congressman Howard Wolpe has been working intensely to bring peace and stability to the Eastern Congo and end the extreme violence against women. This remains a top priority for this Administration. In close coordination with Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Steve Rapp and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Special Advisor Wolpe is working to address these and other pressing issues in the Congo, including stemming the trade of conflict minerals which continues to fuel conflict and instability.

We will also continue our cooperation with regional leaders to look for ways to end Somalia’s protracted political and humanitarian crisis. We continue to call for well-meaning actors in the region to support the Djibouti Peace process, and to reject those extremists and their supporters who seek to exploit the suffering of the Somali people.

Additionally, the United States is proactive in working with African leaders, civil society organizations, and the international community to prevent new conflicts. In January of this year, we worked closely with the governments of Burkina Faso, Morocco, and France to put in place a transitional government in Guinea-Conakry. In a few weeks, the country will hold democratic elections which we hope will begin a democratic tradition in that country.

Fifth: We will seek to deepen our cooperation with African states to address both old and new transnational challenges. The 21st century ushered in new transnational challenges for Africa and the world.

Africa’s poverty puts it at a distinct disadvantage in dealing with major global and transnational problems like climate change, narco-trafficking, trafficking-in-persons and arms, and the illegal exploitation of Africa’s minerals and maritime resources.

Meeting the climate and clean energy challenge is a top priority for the United States and the Obama Administration.

Climate change affects the entire globe; its potential impact on water supplies and food security can be disastrous. As President Obama said in Ghana, “while Africa gives off less greenhouse gasses than any other part of the world, it will be the most threatened by climate change.” Often those who have contributed the least to the problem are the ones who are affected the most by it, and the United States is committed to working with Africans to find viable solutions to adapt to the severe consequences of climate change.

The effects of climate change are clear: the snow cap of Mount Kilimanjaro is rapidly disappearing, Lake Chad is a fraction of the size it was 35 years ago and in recent years the turbines at some of Africa’s largest dams have fallen silent because of reduced water flows. With our international partners, the United States is working to build a sustainable, clean energy global economy which can drive investment and job creation around the world, including bringing energy services to the African continent.

There is no time like the present to face this issue as it carries tremendous consequences for the future of our children, grandchildren and our planet.

As President Obama emphasized during his speech in Ghana, our policies are based on the premise that “Africa’s future is up to Africans.” With a corresponding commitment from African leaders to enact the reforms and policies required to bring about real change, we believe we can achieve our shared goal of a more peaceful, prosperous, and free Africa.

Thank you and I will be happy to take any questions.

African Union Tackles Illegal Fishing in African Waters

The African Union tackles illegal fishing in African waters

Written by Afriqueavenir.org Tuesday, 15 June 2010 11:00

According to a recent report released by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), the annual “turnover” of illegal and unreported fishing world wide amounts to $10 billion.

Driven by a growing demand from rich countries, this global poaching is rapidly growing. As stated by the FAO, approximately 30% of the seafood coming from the oceans does not appear in any declared fishing report.

And it is true that not a single area of the world is spared. The fact remains that the scourge has particularly hit the African continent due to the lacks of technical and financial resources that would enable it to control effectively its vast maritime surfaces. The shortfall resulting from the African seabed scraping by foreign vessels is estimated at two billion dollars per year. For this reason, the African Union and the FAO decided to tackle the problem seriously.

Ghost boats and shell corporations

Illegal fishing in African waters is multifaceted. It goes from the breach of regulations (off-season fishing or fishing in the unauthorized area, exceeding quotas, use of destructive fishing techniques) to pillage practiced by vessels without license. The booty is often transhipped on reefers, mixed with legal catches and then unloaded and sold in legal ports of Las Palmas (Canary Islands) and Suva (Fiji).

The identification of illegal vessels is all the more difficult because the fishing pirates roam the seas under flags of countries who are often not very fussy about their activities. Even worse – the ships can easily change flags and names several times per season to confuse the supervisors. The opacity of this practice, known as “the waltz of flags”, is complemented by the fact that the ghost ship owners usually hide behind shell corporations, based in tax havens.

Stolen fish – the future of African fishermen in danger

Illegal ships mainly target high-value species (bluefin tuna, Patagonian toothfish, shrimp, lobster…) and employ techniques that are particularly destructive, such as bottom trawling, blast fishing and throwing away fish that are considered unprofitable. Pirate fishing robs local fishermen of their resources and prevents the development of export channels.

Having met in Dakar at the end of March 2010, the Sub-Regional Commission on Fisheries of the Western Saharan Africa (CRSP), which includes eight coastal states (Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, SENEGAL and Sierra Leone), assessed the shortfall resulting from illegal fishing in the region to 49 billion FCFA. The African Advisory Board believes that the shortfall on the continental scale amounts to two billion dollars per year.

The AU and the FAO are tightening nets

At a meeting held on 6th and 7th April, the African Union (AU) adopted a “comprehensive African maritime strategy” to protect the African coast against: illegal fishing, acts of piracy and all kinds trafficking (release of toxic products, drug trafficking, illegal emigration). This strategy calls for the pooling of coastal surveillance operations and a database creation for all fleets in African waters.

For its part, on 25th November 2009 in Rome, the FAO adopted a new treaty that aims to close fishing ports to ships involved in illegal fishing. This agreement, which will enter into force once it gets ratified by 25 States, includes the establishment of a prior authorization to access ports as well as regular inspections of fishing permits, equipment used and logbooks. So far, the new FAO Treaty has been signed by Angola, Brazil, Chile, the European Community, the United States of America, Indonesia, Iceland, Norway, Samoa, the Sierra Leone and Uruguay.

Source: www.afriqueavenir.org

Iron Ore Projects in West Africa

FACTBOX-Iron ore projects in West Africa
Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:15am GMT

June 14 (Reuters) – BHP Billiton BHP.L(BLT.L: Quote) became the latest mining company to commit to a large-scale iron ore project in West Africa when Liberia said on Monday the two sides had signed a deal that could be worth $3 billion. [ID:nLDE65D11C]

Mining firms are increasingly spending billions of dollars on iron ore projects in West Africa, a politically unstable and logistically testing region, which is home to the world’s last great undeveloped deposits of the mineral. Here are some of the major operations and works in progress:

CAMEROON

Australia’s Sundance Resources (SDL.AX: Quote) is developing the Mbalam project in Cameroon, estimated to cost in the region of $3 billion. The company expects it to start production in 2013. Sundance aims to dig 35 million tonnes of hematite ore per year, at a mine life of 25 years.

GABON The Belinga project is a centrepiece of Gabon’s policy of diversifying away from oil. Awarded to China’s CMEC in 2006, the project stalled and Gabon said in April it would review the deal. Observers in Gabon expect the contract to remain with the Chinese, though on renegotiated terms, with Brazil’s Vale (VALE5.SA: Quote)(VALE.N: Quote) involved in a technical and environmental capacity.

GUINEA Iron ore is the major growth industry in Guinea, already the world’s biggest bauxite exporter. In March, a joint venture of Rio Tinto (RIO.L: Quote)(RIO.AX: Quote) and Chinalco signed a $2.9 billion agreement to develop the Simandou project, which Rio says is one of the world’s biggest with 2.25 billion tonnes of the mineral. A month later, Vale spent $2.5 billion on a stake in BSG Resources to enable it to build the Simandou-Zogota mine, which will produce 50 million tonnes per year by 2015.

IVORY COAST

India’s Tata Steel (TISC.BO: Quote) signed a deal in 2007 with Ivorian state mining firm SODEMI to develop iron ore deposits at Mount Nimba, which the firm says is one of Africa’s biggest. Tata is working on feasibility studies and exploration in the Ivory Coast. It expects the ore dug there to be supplied to steelworks in the Netherlands and Britain.

LIBERIA

Liberia said on Monday it had signed a minerals development agreement with BHP Billiton to allow the mining group to press ahead with exploration and development of a potential $3 billion iron ore project.

ArcelorMittal (ISPA.AS: Quote) this year restarted work on its $1.5 billion Mount Nimba project, which it had suspended last May. The project is due to begin production in mid-2011.

MALI

Mali is set to become Africa’s newest iron ore producer in September this year, when Indian-owned firm Sahara Mining plans to begin producing 50,000 tonnes per month at its Tienfala project [ID:nLDE64D142].

MAURITANIA Iron ore is one of the biggest export earners for desert nation Mauritania, with state-owned miner SNIM producing 10.2 million tonnes in 2009. SNIM is developing the $700 million Guleb II project, which it expects to add 4 million tonnes to its annual output when it comes on stream. Construction, which could take around three years, is scheduled to start in 2010.

SENEGAL

ArcelorMittal restarted work this year on its $2.2 billion Faleme project, also suspended last year. No new timetable has been put in place, but work is underway on analysing infrastructure requirements.

SIERRA LEONE

London-listed African Minerals (AMIq.L: Quote) expects to start commercial production at its Tonkolili project in the first quarter of 2011. The company says the resource, at 10.5 billion tonnes, is one of the biggest in the world.

Another company, London Mining (LOND.L: Quote) said earlier this year it will spend $300 million over the next four years on its Marampa project, for which it is targeting primary ore production of between 5 million and 8 million tonnes per year by 2013.

Sources: Company information, Reuters data

(Compiled by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Alison Birrane)