Foreign Minister Baerbock travels to Mali and Niger
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock flew to Mali on Tuesday to meet with representatives of civil society and the transitional government. In Bamako, in a conversation with the acting transitional president Assimi Goïta and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop she expressed that the Malian government had “gambled away” its trust in the international community. The background to this statement were the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for February 2022, which Goïta postponed indefinitely, as well as the intensified cooperation with Moscow, among others through the Russian mercenary group Wagner operating in the country. After her visit to Bamako, Baerbock travelled to the German Armed Forces’ Camp Castor in the city of Goa in the north of the country, 1,000km away. Around 1,300 German soldiers are currently stationed in Mali to participate in the United Nations Stabilisation Mission (MINUSMA) and the European Army and National Guard Training Mission in Mali (EUTM). The German participation in both mandates expires at the end of May and has to be voted on again by the German government. The UN Blue Helmet mission, in which more than 20 nations have been involved since 2013, is considered one of the most dangerous and largest in the world. The German minister supports the extension of MINUSMA’s mandate and wants to gain an insight into the security situation in the country through her visit. In her eyes, Germany now bears more responsibility in the country’s peace process after the announced withdrawal of the French from the West African state. However, the Foreign Minister also stressed that a purely military stabilisation is not sustainable; what is needed above all is a strong civil society in which the country’s women are involved. On Wednesday afternoon, the German Foreign Minister travelled on to the neighbouring country of Niger to the east, where she spoke to students at Abdou Moumouni University in the capital Niamey about the effects of climate change in one of Africa’s driest regions. This, combined with soaring food prices, most recently accelerated by the Ukraine war, is becoming a livelihood issue throughout the Sahel region, she said. Today, Baerbock will meet with President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou. A visit to refugees in Ouallam is also planned.
Libya’s rival governments meet for talks on elections
With the support of the United Nations, talks began in Egypt on Wednesday between representatives of Libya’s two rival governments to reach an agreement on holding national elections. Twelve delegates from each, Libya’s House of Representatives, based in the east of the country, and the High Council of State from Tripoli are expected to debate until 20 April. Since the overthrow of longtime ruler Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has not been able to form a united governing alliance. The power struggles of rival groups escalated into a renewed civil war in 2014. Since then, two governments and parliaments have been competing with each other, one in the capital Tripoli and one in the east of the country, which deny each other legitimacy. In recent months, a series of events had hardened the fronts between eastern and western Libya.
The national elections, which were finally cancelled in December 2021, had already caused controversy. The constitutional basis of the elections was not secure. In addition, several controversial candidates such as the son of former ruler Gaddafi, the military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is accused of war crimes, or the current UN-backed interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who himself is not allowed to runaccording to the UN roadmap, were up for election. After the failure of the elections, the House of Representatives, based in Tobruk in eastern Libya, decided on new elections for 2023, which Prime Minister Dbeibah rejected and in turn announced elections for June 2022. In February, the House of Representatives appointed Fathi Bashagha as the new prime minister and also swore in his new cabinet shortly afterwards. Dbeibah and the High Council of State, based in Tripoli in the west of the country, have since rejected Bashagha and the new government.
Last week, five military officers belonging to the military commander Khalifa Haftar from eastern Libya had announced that they would suspend their work in the 5+5 Committee, while calling on their leader to suspend all cooperation with Dbeibah’s interim government in western Libya. They also called on Dbeibah to pay them their outstanding salaries. On this point, they are supported by their western Libyan counterparts. The 5+5 Committee was implemented in 2020 after the Libya Conference in Berlin and is composed of five military officers each from the east and west of the country. The committee is one of three dialogue processes that led to a ceasefire in Tripoli in 2020 after six years of civil war.
In other news
After the numbers of malaria deaths have risen significantly again in recent years, the first research results of a new mosquito net have now been published. In order to combat the increased insecticide resistance of the mosquitoes, which is probably responsible for the rise in the number of deaths, different net alternatives were examined in a study. The variant in which the net is spiked with both the conventional agent pyrethroid and chlorfenapyr turned out to be the most effective so far. According to the first evaluations, infections in children halved and hospital admissions fell by 44 percent. The advantage of chlorfenapyr, the scientists said, is that it impairs the mosquitoes’ ability to fly, preventing them from contacting and biting the host. The increased cost of the new type of net could in turn be offset by the less frequent treatment costs. Only the findings from Tanzania are available yet. The results of the other countries involved in the study, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, have to be awaited.