CW 21/2021: Of twists and turns
Press Review 22 May 2021 to 28 May 2021

Breaking News

Germany officially recognises its colonial crimes in what was then German South-West Africa, now Namibia, in which some 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died between 1904 and 1908, as genocide. This recognition of guilt is part of the agreement on reconciliation between Germany and Namibia, which has now been reached after more than five years of negotiations between the two countries. In addition, 1.1 billion euros are to flow to Namibia over the next 30 years to support reconstruction and economic development, especially in the areas inhabited by the descendants of the Herero and Nama, said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas this Friday morning. The Federal Republic also wants to officially ask for forgiveness for the genocide.


Mali’s prime minister and president resign

In an abrupt twist to last week’s news, Malian soldiers arrested President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on Monday. The two heads of state, who together formed the head of Mali’s interim government, were taken to the Kati military camp outside the capital Bamako. Both were released on Thursday after declaring their resignation a day earlier. The last President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was already taken to the same place in August last year when he was forced to resign. The coup d’état, now the second one within a year, has shaken the politically unstable country and heightens concerns that the elections announced for next spring will once again be dominated by the military and will not meet democratic standards. The reason for the military’s actions are the changes in the transitional government’s cabinet announced last week by Ouane in consultation with N’Daw (DAS Press Review week 20). Although representatives of the military are to retain key posts within the new cabinet, two key members of the military junta were to be dismissed: Sadio Camara and Modibo Kone were two of the soldiers who were instrumental in the August coup and were now to be replaced by General Souleymane Doucoure and General Mamadou Lamine Ballo. The arrest of the two government leaders shows not only the military’s anger at the decision taken, but also its still dominant position of power within the country. An army spokesperson indicated that for the time being, Colonel Assimi Goita, who already led last year’s coup and served as vice president of the interim government until earlier this week, would again take charge of the affairs of state. Strong criticism of the military’s action has come from the United Nations, the African Union and various European heads of state, among others. There are threats of harsh sanctions against the country. The regional organisation ECOWAS will also meet in the next few days for a non-public meeting to discuss further action against the Malian military government.


The US imposes sanctions on Ethiopia

On Monday, the US imposed sanctions on Ethiopia over the ongoing conflict within the Tigray region in the north of the country. It says the actors involved in the conflict have not taken meaningful action to end the conflict. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced visa restrictions. Besides current and former government officials and security forces from Ethiopia and Eritrea, members of the regional ruling party Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) are also affected. The US State Department has also imposed restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia. Among other things, the export of defence and military technologies to Ethiopia is to be controlled and restricted. However, the US will continue support in the areas of health, education and food security, Blinken said in his statement. According to the USAID database, the US made one billion US dollars in aid payments to Ethiopia last year. The Ethiopian government reacted angrily, accusing the US of interfering in its internal affairs with the sanctions. If the sanctions continue, the relationship with the Biden government would have to be reassessed. Originally, regional and national elections were to be held in the country at the Horn of Africa in August last year. However, due to the Corona pandemic, they were postponed. After the TPLF held regional elections in Tigray anyway, contrary to the parliamentary decision, Ethiopian government troops started the offensive against the People’s Liberation Front in November last year. The clashes in the member country of the Compact with Africa, which since 2019 has also entered into a reform partnership with Germany within the framework of the Marshall Plan with Africa, have continued ever since. The approximately six million inhabitants of Tigray are largely cut off from the outside world. Soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea have also marched in during the conflict. Last week, the national and regional elections were postponed for the second time; instead of 5 June, they are to take place on 21 June. However, according to the government, no elections will be held in the Tigray region. Further delays are also expected in four other regions, including parts of the Amhara region.


In other news

Three days ago, Kenyan gynaecologist Dr Jemimah Kariuki was awarded the WHO Director-General’s Award for Global Health 2021 for her Wheels for Life initiative. The 28-year-old launched the project in Nairobi in April last year to give pregnant women access to medical care despite the corona-related night curfew. Due to the nightly cancellation of public transport and increased costs of ambulance transport, the problem of maternal mortality in Kenya has increased sharply since the beginning of the pandemic. Wheels for Life offers a toll-free telephone service for pregnant women: they receive initial medical advice and, if necessary, a free transport service to the nearest hospital even during curfew. The emergency number was dialled over 100,000 times within the first year, while the transport service helped deliver more than 1,000 babies safely. Kariuki’s initiative has received much attention and support worldwide, including from the Kenyan Healthcare Federation, AMREF, the UN and the European Union.

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