CW 10/2022: Political Turf Wars
Press Review 4 March 2022 to 11 March 2022

Libya’s political crisis

After Libya’s parliament in the east of the country swore in a new rival government led by former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha last Tuesday, Libyan Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah met this Tuesday with officials from 12 diplomatic missions in the capital Tripoli to discuss the political situation in the country. Dbeibah, who was appointed prime minister in February 2021 as part of the U.N.-led peace process to lead the country previously divided into two rival administrations based in Tripoli in the west and a parliament in Tobruk in the east to joint presidential and legislative elections, strongly opposed Bashagha’s appointment. A statement from the internationally recognized interim government said Dbeibah’s mandate would remain valid until a new government was officially elected. However, since presidential and parliamentary elections originally scheduled for December 2021 were canceled due to bitter disagreements over legal and constitutional bases and over the candidacy of several controversial figures – including both parliamentary leader Saleh and Dbeibah himself – the Libyan parliament now argues that Dbeibah’s mandate expired when the elections did not take place and appointed Bashagha as his successor in February. The latter announced a new constitution and elections for 2023, while the interim government under Dbeibah presented a four-point plan that calls for a parliamentary vote and a referendum on constitutional changes at the end of June this year. The representatives from Turkey, the United States, Britain, France, Qatar, Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Algeria and Tunisia underscored at Tuesday’s meeting with Dbeibah that measures needed to be taken to hold the elections and that they support the efforts of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Stephanie William. The latter had offered to facilitate talks between the legislature in the east and institutions in the western capital, Tripoli, and suggested that a joint constitutional committee be set up to develop a constitutional framework for the elections under the auspices of the United Nations. However, Libya’s parliament said Monday that it rejected any “interference.” The power struggle in Libya had erupted after the fall of longtime ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, and the North African country had already seen two rival governments in the east and west from September 2014 to February 2021. Current developments raise fears of a further east-west divide as well as a renewed ignition of the armed conflict and thus the failure of the peace process.

New Prime Minister in Mozambique

Mozambique’s new Prime Minister Adriano Afonso Maleiane was sworn in last Friday. The 73-year-old previous finance minister had been appointed last week on Wednesday by President Filipe Nyusi as part of a cabinet reshuffle. He takes the place of Carlos Agosthinho do Rosário, who had been prime minister of the southeastern African country since Nyusi took office in 2015. In addition, six other ministerial posts were changed, but some were filled by old players. The new finance minister is Max Tonela, the former minister of energy and mineral resources, and the new minister of public works is Carlos Mesquita, the former minister of industry. Analysts in Maputo see the move as an attempt by Nyusi to reward his most loyal allies and bind them more closely to him. Nyusi is under pressure as part of the so-called “tuna bond scandal”: in what is arguably the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history, secret loans totaling $2 billion were taken out back in 2013 and 2014 – money that was supposed to go to the tuna industry but was embezzled. After the scandal came to light in 2016, it is only now that a highly explosive case is underway against 19 high-ranking political figures in Maputo. Nyusi, who was defense minister at the time, has so far been able to resist being summoned, although his predecessor Armando Guebuza, whose son is accused in the proceedings, accuses him of complicity. Against this background, fears are growing that Nyusi is seeking an unconstitutional third term in office to avoid prosecution. Thus, the current dismissal of part of the cabinet was initially expected to lead Nyusi to appoint some political heavyweights from his Frelimo party in order to strengthen his position within the party, especially vis-à-vis Guebuza. However, recycling his loyal ministers is now also seen by some analysts as a move to build up a possible successor. Meanwhile, another interesting development is the appointment of Carlos Zacarias, the former chairman of the National Petroleum Institute, as the new Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, which will allow him to decide on approvals for oil and gas projects. Mozambique is among the countries that could benefit from the global rise in oil and gas prices in the wake of the Ukraine war, despite simultaneously more expensive wheat imports from Russia, according to Oxford Economics Africa. However, in the contested Cabo Delgado region in the north of the country, a multibillion-dollar investment project by the French Total Group to extract natural gas has been lying idle since the March 2021 attack by Islamists, as the French company refuses to proceed with the project in light of the security situation.

In other news

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, whose motto was #BreakTheBias, the Zuri Awards were presented again this year by the Zuri Foundation in Nairobi. In 15 different categories, Kenyan women have been honored since 2017 for contributing in very different ways to positive change in the country through their commitment and work. Among the winners this year were Anthena Morgen in the Innovation category, Nasenyana Adoket in the Finance category, Nyakinya Gathura for the STEM category, and Ruth Samoei in the Public Service category for her role in empowering disadvantaged deaf communities. The award is intentionally given to women who have not yet been in the public spotlight, but whose work has brought about positive change in society. In her speech at the award ceremony, the foundation’s executive director, Norah Muthoni, emphasized that more and more women were in leadership positions and driving Africa’s transformation. For example, she said, Kenyan corporate boards are made up of 36% women, which is 13% higher than the global average. Nevertheless, she said, gender inequality across the continent remains high by global standards.

 

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