Rapprochements in North Africa
On the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of his accession to the throne on Saturday, Moroccan King Mohammed VI expressed his confidence that normalised relations with Algeria would be restored. He underlined the close ties between the two peoples and assured that Morocco would always stand by its neighbour and cooperate with the Algerian presidency. This speech can also be interpreted as a message to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Diplomatic relations between the two North African countries were suspended in August 2021 by the Algerian side. These had already been strained for some time, as Algeria supports the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara conflict. Morocco’s rapprochement with Israel was the trigger for Algeria to break off relations. This act was seen as undermining Palestine’s independence efforts, with whose leaders and organisations Algeria has multiplied its contacts in recent months. Algeria is also trying hard to establish closer relations with Tunisia. The People’s Republic is the first country to recognise the Tunisian constitutional referendum of last week. As of mid July, Algeria also opened its borders to its eastern neighbour, which had been closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic. This is a relief for the Tunisian tourism sector in particular. Whether Algeria will now approach Morocco after the King’s speech remains to be seen. Only one day later, Tebboune gave an interview in which he emphasised that Algeria has no problems with any Arab country and respects all states. The two states will meet at the latest in November on the occasion of a summit of the Arab League in Algiers.
Parliamentary elections in Senegal
The ruling coalition of Senegalese President Macky Sall narrowly wins Sunday’s parliamentary elections, losing its absolute majority in parliament for the first time since the country’s independence, according to preliminary results released on Thursday. With 82 of the National Assembly’s 165 seats, the ruling coalition of the president, Benno Bokk Yakaar (engl. “United in Hope”) would thus have to rely on other parliamentary forces to pass laws in the future. In 2017, it was still able to win 125 seats. The opposition alliance, consisting of the two coalitions Yewwi Askan Wi (engl. “Liberate the People”) and Wallu Senegal (engl. “Save Senegal”), led by former President Abdoulaye Wade, won 56 and 24 seats respectively, a total of only two mandates fewer than the president’s coalition. Three additional seats went to three small opposition alliances. The opposition already experienced an upswing in the municipal elections in January. There, they recorded victories in several major cities, including the capital Dakar. As recently as Monday, both the opposition and the government claimed to have won the elections. Some opposition members rejected the results or accused the government of rigging the elections. Overall, however, international election observers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Collective of Civil Society Organisations for the Elections (COSCE) assessed the voting as peaceful and transparent. The outcome of the elections will determine the political scope of President Sall, who is accused by the opposition of wanting to run for president a third time in 2024 despite being limited to two terms. Sall himself, however, has so far been only vague about his future plans and ambitions.
In other news
In the course of the Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August, several African athletes have already achieved podium finishes. But four Gambian sprinters as well as the top national female hopeful in this discipline, Gina Bass, missed out on their participation due to delayed visa processes. Similar problems had already emerged at the World Athletics Championships, which were held in Oregon, USA, in July. The South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman considers the lack of globalisation in professional sport to be a major hurdle for African athletes. Top-class sport, she says, is almost exclusively eurocentric and disadvantages all those who, despite administrative, cultural and financial burdens, deliver top physical and mental performances far away. The often necessary exposure to the real conditions of later competitions usually exceeds the permitted duration of stay covered by the approved visas. Nonetheless , the German Africa Foundation is keeping its fingers crossed for all African professionals in their upcoming competitions.