German and French Foreign Ministers visit Ethiopia
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her French counterpart Catherine Colonna have arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a two-day visit on Thursday to discuss the peace process in the country.” While welcoming the implementation of the peace deal that was reached between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front TPLF last November, they also discussed how Germany, France, and the European Union (EU) can support Ethiopia’s progress towards democracy, peace, and sustainable development. Furthermore, there will be talks with officials of the African Union (AU) and representatives of civil society and human rights groups.In light of the food insecurity caused by the Ukraine war and ongoing droughts, the ministers also visited a distribution center of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in the Oromia region. Both countries have already been financing the transport of much needed Ukrainian grain donations and indicated to continue their support to the most affected regions. Baerbock and Colonna are the first two foreign ministers of the EU to visit since the ceasefire (see press review week 45/2022). They arrived only two days after rebels in Tigray have begun to hand over heavy weapons to Ethiopia’s federal forces; an important step in the peace process which was overseen by a delegation from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) along with both Ethiopian and Tigrayan officials.
Parliamentary elections in Benin
Parliamentary elections were held in Benin last Sunday. As the electoral commission announced today, the governing parties Union Progressiste le Renouveau and the Bloc Republician, allied with President Patrice Talon, won 81 of the 109 seats and thus the majority in parliament. With Les Democrats, who won the remaining 28 seats led by opposition leader Thomas Bon Yayi, an opposition party is now entering parliament again after four years, following the tightening of electoral law that effectively excluded the opposition from the last election. The other four parties running for parliamentary seats failed to meet the 10 per cent hurdle. This also affects the upcoming presidential elections in 2026, since candidates need the support of parliamentarians to even run for election. In addition, the mandate of the judges of the Constitutional Court ends this year; four of the seven constitutional judges are appointed by the legislature, three by the president. Sunday’s election put Benin’s democracy to the test, after the West African state’s reputation as a pioneer of democracy and stability in the region had increasingly declined under President Talon. Critics accuse the president in particular of deliberately suppressing the opposition with his policies and of endangering Benin’s once successful multi-party democracy. Voter turnout was lower than expected at 38.66 percent. Regional election observers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rated the election process as peaceful and in accordance with the rules. However, Eric Houndete, the leader of the Les Demorates, announced in a press conference on Thursday after the publication of the preliminary results that his party will not recognise the election results and denounced electoral manipulation, vote rigging and vote buying by the ruling parties. However, he did not provide any direct evidence. It remains to be seen whether the final results will be contested.
in other news
A Moroccan research team has developed the first African screening tests for breast cancer and leukemia. By producing and evaluating such tests locally, costs can be reduced and results can be available within hours, according to the Moroccan Foundation for Advanced Science, Innovation and Research (MASciR), which has been working on the development since 2010. Until now, test kits had to be imported at almost double the price and samples sent to France, which is time-consuming. Breast cancer can now also be detected at an earlier stage with the locally produced diagnostic kits, thus increasing the chances of survival for those affected. MASciR is working with the African Medicines Agency (AMA) to offer the diagnostic kits throughout the African continent. They will go into mass production in just a few months and in the medium term reduce the high dependence on imported medical products.