Dissolution of parliament in South Sudan
After South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir dissolved parliament last Saturday, he announced the new composition of the legislative body on Monday. The appointment of a new parliament is part of the 2018 peace agreement between Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar. After five years of civil war with hundreds of thousands of casualties, the two leaders came together three years ago to end the war and create a path to a safer South Sudan. As agreed in the peace treaty, the new parliament consists of 550 members, 150 more than the previous one. The majority of MPs, 332, remain members of Kiir’s ruling party Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Government, but 128 seats are now held by Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Opposition. The remaining 90 MPs are from other parties of the peace agreement. The lawmakers were not elected by the people, but nominated by the parties themselves. Some observers see the move as another important sign of reconciliation. However, it remains to be seen to what extent the fragile situation in the country can be improved in the long term. Originally, the new parliament should have been appointed as early as February 2020, when Kiir and Machar entered into a coalition government. President Kiir is accused of not having submitted his party’s list of MPs in time, thus delaying the process. Some voices see the visit of the US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth to Juba as the only reason for the current parliamentary dissolution and doubt the political will to continue implementing the peace agreement. Accordingly, civil society and the opposition are cautious about the parliament’s ability to fulfil its political role. The agreed ceasefire is also repeatedly broken. In the last six months of last year alone, more than 1,000 people were killed in fighting between different communities.
Recall of the Moroccan ambassador from Berlin
After Morocco had already cooled down its contact with Germany’s diplomatic mission in Rabat in March, the North African country now, without any prior talks, recalled its ambassador, Zohour Alaoui, from Berlin back to her home country for consultations. Rabat accuses Germany of acting against Morocco’s interests because of its stance on Western Sahara. The current escalation follows a steady deterioration in diplomatic relations that began early last year after Morocco was not invited to the Libya conference in Berlin despite its important role in the region. A first serious rupture followed after Germany had criticised the actions of former US President Donald Trump, who in December last year, as one of his last official acts, unilaterally recognised Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara, which itself is fighting for international recognition of its independence. Germany then called a meeting of the UN Security Council, which did not follow the US approach and reaffirmed its continued commitment to clarifying the status of Western Sahara under international law under UN leadership. Rabat interpreted Germany’s initiative as a “hostile act” and as a consequence banned its government agencies from any cooperation and contact with the German embassy and other political organisations from Germany. The current withdrawal of the ambassador ostensibly follows Germany’s treatment of the Moroccan Youtube activist Mohammed Hajib, who is based in Duisburg, Germany. In his videos, he criticises the Moroccan state. In his home country, he is a convicted terrorist. Morocco accuses Germany of having passed on confidential information from Moroccan security authorities to Hajib. The Federal Foreign Office was surprised by the accusations and asked Morocco for an explanation, but at the same time stressed that they are open to a constructive solution to solve the diplomatic conflict. Morocco and Germany have traditionally enjoyed good relations. As a member of the Compact with Africa and reform partner of the BMZ, the North African country plays an important role in Germany’s Africa policy. In 2020, the country received 1.6 billion Euros in loans for reforms, investments in renewable energies and Covid-19 aid.
In other news
Badminton is gaining attention in Burundi – the East African country wants to become a centre of excellence for the sport. Both the African and the Burundian badminton federations are motivated and ambitious to increase national interest in the game. The latter has formulated clear goals to mobilise at least ten thousand players in the next four years. Throughout the country, 100 teachers are to be trained and at least 200 playing fields designed. The aim is to motivate schoolchildren in particular to take part in the sport. In addition, officials hope to establish a national league to bring the enthusiasm of Burundi’s population for badminton closer to that for football in the country.