Dispute over gas trade between Algeria and Spain
Spain’s change of political course regarding the Western Sahara issue could have an impact on gas supplies from Algeria. The director general of the Algerian state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach announced this week a possible recalculation of prices for its long-time trading partner Spain. In times of rising energy prices due to the Ukraine war and the accompanying sanctions against Russia, the company is trying to maintain contract prices for all customers, but a recalculation for Spain is not ruled out, he said. The country covers 40% of its gas needs with imports from Algeria. Political tensions recently arose between Madrid and Algiers after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchéz publicly voiced his support for Morocco’s autonomy plan for the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara. With this move, Sanchéz ended 40 years of Spanish neutrality regarding the disputed status of Western Sahara and indirectly acknowledged that Western Sahara is and will remain part of Morocco. In response, Algeria, which supports the independence of Western Sahara, had already recalled its ambassador from Madrid in March and suspended the repatriation of illegal migrants. In Rabat, on the other hand, the reaction to the surprising political change after almost a year of diplomatic stalemate with Spain was positive. Relations between Rabat and Madrid had reached a low point in May 2021, when the border police allowed 10,000 migrants to enter the Spanish exclave of Ceuta. Yesterday, Moroccan King Mohammed VI received Sanchéz at the Royal Palace yesterday. Sanchéz had accepted the invitation by the monarch at short notice in order to bring the two countries, which have close economic ties, diplomatically closer together again during the month of Ramadan.
Power struggle in Somalia
Against the background of the expulsion of a representative of the African Union Commission from Somalia, the political power struggle in the leadership of the country on the Horn of Africa seems to be coming to a head again. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hussein Roble declared the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Mozambican diplomat Francisco Madeira, persona non grata and expelled him from the country. The official reason given for this decision was Madeira’s “incompatible actions regarding his status as representative of the AU Commission for Somalia”. Some newspaper reports suggest that Roble’s decision was linked to recordings in which Madeira allegedly accused the Somali Prime Minister of allying with the opposition against the re-election of the incumbent president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmaajo, who reversed the diplomat’s expulsion the very next day. Farmaajo pointed out that the Prime Minister in his position had no authority to take this decision alone. Farmaajo also stressed the importance of Somalia’s relations abroad and especially with the AU for stability and security and the holding of peaceful elections in Somalia. Just last Friday, the UN Security Council voted to extend the AU Mission for Somalia AMISOM, which will now be transformed into the AU Transitional Mission in Somalia ATIMIS after 15 years of deployment. By the end of December 2024, the transitional mission is to be completed and all personnel withdrawn. The current conflict between President Farmaajo and Prime Minister Roble is part of a series of disputes between the two officials. Most recently, at the end of last year, Roble successfully resisted his removal by Farmaajo, who has ruled without a constitutional mandate since February 2021. Since then, the announced presidential elections have been postponed several times, and the parliamentary election process has also been dragging on for months, further destabilising the already fragile situation in the country.
In other news
At the Grammy Awards, which were presented for the 64th time last weekend, South African DJ Black Coffee and singer Angélique Kidjo from Benin had each won a Grammy. Among the nominees for the various categories of the most important US music award were also numerous other African music stars such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Femi Kuti or Yemi Alade. Black Coffee not only won a Grammy for the first time with his seventh studio album Subconcisously, but was also the first African artist to win in the category “Best Dance/Electronic Album”. Singer Kidjo, who was nominated several times and performed as one of five live acts during the event, won her fifth Grammy with her album Mother Nature. As last year, the evening was hosted by South African comedian and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah.