Arrest warrant issued against Tsitsi Dangarembga
Last Monday, the verdict in the now almost two-year lasting trial of award-winning author Tsitsi Dangarembga in her home country Zimbabwe was expected to be announced. After Dangarembga failed to appear in court for health reasons, the judge in charge issued an arrest warrant on Monday. The previous week, Dangarembga’s lawyer had already informed the court about her health condition and the resulting inability of his client to appear. The pronouncement of judgement was postponed until 4 August. The arrest warrant against the 63-year-old, who currently resides in Germany, could be lifted upon presentation of a valid medical certificate, the court said. Dangaremba was temporarily arrested in July 2020 after participating in anti-government protests and thereafter had to stand trial.
G7 Summit with African participation
From Sunday to Tuesday, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz received the heads of state and government of the Group of Seven (G7) for this year’s summit at Schloss Elmau. In addition to Germany, which holds this year’s G7 presidency, the G7 also includes France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom. From the European Union (EU), which holds observer status, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel were present. The summit focused on the war in Ukraine and how to deal with Russia. Hence, the topics of food security, infrastructure investments as well as climate and energy policy also played a central role. On Monday, in addition to the heads of state and government of Argentina, India and Indonesia, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegalese President and current Chair of the African Union, Macky Sall, also participated in the meeting. Furthermore, the global and economic consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine formed a central part of the talks. Also discussed was the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) officially launched at this summit – the G7’s answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: 600 billion US dollars are to be invested in infrastructure projects in countries of the Global South and particularly in Africa within the next five years. In addition, the G7 announced that they would provide 4.5 billion US dollars for the fight against the current global food crisis, which is affecting the Horn of Africa with particular severity. With regard to energy and climate policy, it was decided to establish a climate club. This is intended to improve international cooperation concerning the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as to provide countries of the Global South with financial and technical support on the path to a climate-friendly economy through Partnerships for a Just Energy Transition, such as the one that already exists with South Africa. In the light of rising gas prices and the threat of gas shortages, however, it was concurrently decided to partially revise the decision taken at COP-26 to halt loans and investments in the fossil energy sector in other countries by the end of 2022. In certain cases, public investments in gas production will be possible until the end of 2025. This step paves the way for German-African gas partnerships, as already recently agreed with Senegal (press review cw 21/2022) and Egypt (press review cw 24/2022); environmental organisations, however, sharply criticise this decision.
New tensions on the Sudanese-Ethiopian border
After the Sudanese government accused Ethiopia’s military last Monday of arresting seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian on Sudanese territory the previous week, abducting them to its territory and killing them there, the border conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia is threatening to escalate again. Addis Ababa has strongly denied the accusations, in turn claiming that Sudan illegally entered its territory and engaged in skirmishes with a local militia, not the Ethiopian military. There were reportedly deaths on both sides. In response to the incidents, the borders were closed to trade for the time being and the Sudanese ambassador was recalled from Addis Ababa. According to Sudan, a complaint to the UN Security Council is currently being prepared. At the same time, Sudan intensified its military operations in the border region of Al-Fashaga. According to the Ethiopian side, the region has been largely taken over by the Sudanese military. Artillery fire and the destruction of a base belonging to an Ethiopian militia continued until Tuesday. The unresolved border issue has strained relations between the two neighbouring countries for years; all previous attempts at negotiations have failed. As a result, especially during harvest time, there are regular disputes over fertile farmland between farmers of both nations, often with deadly results if militias based there are involved. The ongoing civil war in Ethiopia with thousands of refugees on Sudanese soil, as well as the hydroelectric dam project (GERD) on the Blue Nile, which could endanger Sudan’s main water supply, further strain relations between the two countries. To avoid further escalation of the situation and destabilisation of the region, AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat therefore called for restraint and dialogue between the two parties to the conflict. The regional organisation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also joined this call and called for a diplomatic solution.
In other news
By reaching 142.8 million followers, Senegalese Khaby Lame set a new record on the video platform TikTok this week. No other person worldwide has more followers on TikTok than the 22-year-old Italian-based comedian and influencer. His short videos, in which he reacts parodically, wordlessly and with unmistakable gestures and facial expressions to complicated “life hacks” (everyday tips) of others, are his recipe for success. The social media star posted his first videos after losing his job due to the Covid 19 pandemic. However, it took until November 2020 for his first video to go viral. Then, as early as 2021, he became the first person in Europe and second person worldwide to crack the 100 million follower mark on TikTok. Now, the comedian has surpassed US influencer Charli D’Amelio to make it to the top of the 1.6 billion-user video portal.