AU Inter-Ministerial Meeting on UN Security Council Reform
The ninth inter-ministerial meeting of the African Union (AU) Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government, known as C-10, was held in Uganda’s capital Kampala on January 19th to 20th. The mission of the committee, which was established in the wake of the African Common Position (Ezulwini Consensus) adopted by the AU in 2005, is to formulate a common position among African states on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform. Chaired by Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister David John Francis and opened by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, the meeting of foreign ministers from the C-10, which also includes Algeria, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Namibia, Senegal and Zambia, served to take stock of the achievements and developments to date in the ongoing intergovernmental reform negotiations at the UN General Assembly. At the same time, in preparation for the 35th Summit of C-10 Heads of State and Government to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February of this year, the aim was to develop a strategic approach for the formulation and successful advocacy of a common African position regarding the reform of the UN Security Council. African states have been calling for decades – as have many other states and regions – for the distribution of seats on the UN Security Council, the most powerful organ of the United Nations, to be adapted to the new global structures and balance of power, and for a balance of regional representation to be ensured. Africa, in particular, is severely underrepresented with its three non-permanent seats currently held by Kenya, Gabon and Ghana. Therefore, the core demand of the C-10 is that, in addition to increasing the number of non-permanent seats from three to five, the African continent should also be guaranteed two permanent seats on the UN Security Council in the future. This demand is also supported by the G4 countries, which in addition to Germany include Japan, Brazil and India. The meeting in Kampala was concluded on Thursday by the ten African ministers with a call not to give in to their demands.
Protests in Tunisia
Last Friday, violent clashes broke out in Tunisia, during which hundreds of demonstrators were dispersed by Tunisian security forces using tear gas and water cannons. Several arrests were reported and one demonstrator is said to have since succumbed to his injuries. The protesters had gathered to demonstrate against President Kais Saied and commemorate the 11th anniversary of the fall of the regime of long-term dictator Zine Al-Abidine ben Ali, despite a ban on gatherings imposed the previous day to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Until President Saied brought the holiday forward by decree last year, 14 January was officially celebrated in Tunisia as the anniversary of the Arab Spring. The current protests on this day, in which civil society organisations as well as various political parties took part, were mainly directed against the president’s continued seizure of power. While large parts of the population had supported the dissolution of parliament, which remains dissolved since July 2021, and the dismissal of the old government last year, there are now more and more voices that fear and criticise Saied’s drift towards authoritarianism. Although there has been a new government since October under Nejla Bouden Romdhane, the first woman to hold the office of prime minister in the Arab world, Saied can still rule by decree. The roadmap presented by Saied in December for a return to a democratic constitution is therefore too slow for his critics. According to the plan, a new constitution is being prepared in a national consultative process and shall be subjected to a referendum in July this year. Parliamentary elections are to follow at the end of the year. Saied, meanwhile, rejected the accusations yesterday and reaffirmed the upholding of political freedoms in Tunisia. However, the support of the powerful workers’ union Union Générale des Travailleurs Tunisiens (UGTT), which had backed Saied’s actions last year, is slowly crumbling. It recently called for concrete programmes to address the country’s multiple socio-economic problems and serious consultations on the new constitution with a wide range of social actors.
In other News
Last Tuesday, Nigeria’s President Buhari unveiled 13 rice pyramids in a ceremony in the capital Abuja. The pyramids, built from over one million bags of rice, are part of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Program, an agricultural credit programme of Buhari’s government to transform agriculture, and are meant to symbolise Nigeria’s success in increasing rice production and thus food self-sufficiency. For example, since the introduction of the ABP in 2015, paddy rice production has increased from about 4.5 million tonnes per year to over 9 million tonnes in 2021. Selling the pyramid rice bags at less than the market price is now intended to reduce rice prices in the country, Buhari said.