On Monday, the 14th Ordinary Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) took place in Djibouti. The summit, which was held for the first time since 2019, saw Djibouti take over the chairmanship of the regional organisation, which comprises countries in the East and Horn of Africa, from Sudan, which previously headed IGAD for four years. The vice-chairmanship will be held by South Sudan. Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed and Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel also attended the summit. Eritrea had left the regional bloc in 2007 but has now officially resumed membership of IGAD, the information minister said on Twitter on Monday evening. The resumption of the IGAD seat had already been a topic of discussion in February this year during the visit of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to his Kenyan counterpart in Nairobi (Press Review week 7/2023). The core topic of the summit, however, was the ongoing conflict in Sudan (Press Review week 16/2023). The Executive Secretary of IGAD, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, whose term of office was extended at the summit, called on the parties to the conflict in Sudan to cease hostilities and resolve the situation through dialogue. At the same time, he warned of regional repercussions of the conflict. Already in April, mediation attempts by IGAD member states Djibouti, South Sudan and Kenya failed. Now a new attempt is to be launched, as decided at the summit. A Kenya-led quartet of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia will take over the new mediation attempts in Sudan on behalf of IGAD and continue the peace efforts. Kenyan President William Ruto announced in a press conference during the summit that the Quartet plans, firstly, to hold face-to-face talks with General Al-Burhan and General Daglo, better known as Hemeti, within 10 days and to work for the reopening of a reliable humanitarian corridor, and secondly, to initiate a comprehensive national dialogue with the Sudanese people within the next three weeks.The Quartet is IGAD’s largest joint effort to date to resolve the conflict in Sudan and also an attempt to fill the diplomatic void created after the Jeddah talks brokered by Saudi Arabia and the US were suspended following the breach of the latest negotiated ceasefire. However, IGAD also faces many challenges here. For example, only one day after the summit, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced that it rejected the IGAD initiative to resolve the conflict between the Sudanese parties to the conflict. Sudan had participated in the summit in the person of Malik Akar, the vice-chairman of the Sovereignty Transitional Council and Al-Burhan’s special envoy, and the IGAD initiative had made it into the final communiqué. Consequently, it remains to be seen whether IGAD’s mediation attempts actually have a chance of success.
Parliamentary elections in Guinea-Bissau
In the parliamentary elections in Guinea-Bissau, the PAI-Terra-Ranka coalition, consisting of five opposition parties, won the absolute majority. These were the first parliamentary elections after President Umaro Sissoco Embalo dissolved parliament in May 2022 (Press Review week 20/2022). As the electoral commission announced last Thursday, the PAI-Terra Ranka coalition was able to secure 54 of the 102 seats in the 4 June elections and thus an absolute majority in the new parliament. The coalition is led by the former ruling party Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), which is chaired by Domingos Simões Pereira, who held the office of Prime Minister from 2014 – 2015 and lost the 2019 presidential elections in the run-off against the incumbent President Embalo. A total of 20 parties and coalitions contested the election. Embalo’s ruling party Madem-G15 won 29 seats, the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) won 12 seats, the Workers’ Party won 6 seats and the Assembly of the People United–Democratic Party of Guinea-Bissau won one seat. Voter turnout was over 70%, according to the head of the ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission, Jorge Carlos Fonseca. The result of the parliamentary elections is seen as a clear defeat for Embalo, whose term of office still has 18 months to run and who can now hardly count on support from parliament for his plans to amend the constitution. These plans would replace the country’s existing semi-presidential system with a presidential system in which the office of president would combine the functions of head of state and head of government and the post of prime minister would be abolished. It is precisely this post that must now be filled following the parliamentary election. Before the election, Embalo had announced that he would not appoint his former rival Domingos Simões Pereira as prime minister in the event of a defeat for his party and a victory for the PAI-Terra-Ranka coalition. Now, after the election results were announced, he declared his willingness to do so after all. However, the official appointment is still pending.Overall, the election was deemed “free, transparent and calm” by the approximately 230 international election observers present. The new parliament and government face enormous political, but also economic challenges. Not only do they have to overcome the ongoing political-institutional crisis and restore the autonomy of parliament and thus parliamentary control over President Embalo’s government, but they also have to tackle the country’s rampant poverty and boost the ailing economy. Priorities of the PAI-Terra-Ranka coalition here are the fight against hunger and poverty as well as the stabilisation of cashew prices, one of Guinea-Bissau’s most important export goods. In addition, a functioning school system and the reintegration of health workers are to be promoted.
In other news
On Tuesday, the Recording Academy, which hosts the annual Grammy Awards, announced the introduction of the new category, Best African Music Performance, for the 66th Grammy Awards in 2024 on its official Instagram page. The Grammy Awards are considered one of the most prestigious and important awards in the music industry. The awards have been given out in 91 categories so far and will be expanded by a total of three categories in 2024. The new category Best African Music Performance includes 19 diverse musical genres from across Africa and recognises recordings that use unique local expressions from the African continent. The category highlights regional melodic, harmonic and rhythmic music traditions and includes genres such as Afrobeat, Afro-Fusion, Afro-Pop, Afrobeats, Alte, Amapiano, Bongo Flava, Genge, Kizomba, Chimurenga, High Life, Fuji, Kwassa, Ndombolo, Mapouka, Ghanaian Drill, Afro-House, South African Hip-Hop and Ethio Jazz.
Under the slogan “free and outside”, the Afro Ruhr Festival will take place for the 12th time on 29 July at the Dietrich-Keuning-Haus in Dortmund. The three-day festival celebrates the diversity of African cultures and the African diaspora. The festival will open with a parade of diversity to mark “Diversity in Unity”. Other part of the programme include live acts by internationally renowned artists, a colourful children’s and youth programme, a bazaar, an intercultural football tournament, theatre, traditional dances, drumming and capoeira workshops, African food, literature, cinema and panel discussions. The festival is organised by Africa Positive e.V., the Dietrich Keuning House in cooperation with the Cultural Office of the City of Dortmund and other partners.