Press Review CW 4/2024: Of multilateralism and bilateral relations
Press Review 19 January 2024 to 26 January 2024

Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Uganda

The 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ended on Saturday in Uganda’s capital Kampala. The six-day meeting, which took place under the motto “Deepening Cooperation for Shared Global Affluence”, was attended by representatives from 90 of the 120 member states, including 30 heads of state and government, as well as UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The chairmanship of the NAM was officially handed over on Friday by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev to his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, who will now chair the group of non-aligned states until 2027. One of the central topics of the summit was how to deal with the current war in Gaza. Palestine, which unlike Israel is a member of the NAM, received a great deal of support; South Africa also received broad backing for its case against Israel before the International Court of Justice. Article 6 of the joint final declaration (Kampala Declaration) stated that Israel’s illegal acts of war in the Gaza Strip, the indiscriminate attacks on the Palestinian civilian population and civilian facilities as well as forced displacement were strongly condemned and an immediate humanitarian ceasefire was called for. In general, the peaceful resolution of conflicts would be supported and closer cooperation with regional organisations such as the African Union was advocated for. The talks also focused on the reform of the UN. Here, the member states clearly spoke out in favour of reforming the UN system and expressed their support for the joint position of the African states for more representation of the continent in the UN Security Council. Guterres also backed the reform demands in his speech. With the addition of South Sudan, whose admission was officially announced at the summit, all 54 African states are represented in the group. This brings the number of NAM members to 121. The Non-Aligned Movement was founded in 1961 to offer states an alternative to the blocs, led by the US and the former USSR, during the Cold War. The grouping remained in existence even after the end of the Cold War. The US, the countries of the European Union, China and Russia are not members, although the latter two have official observer status. In addition to the NAM meeting, two other summits were held in the Ugandan capital during the week. The regional organisation Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) met on Friday, while the third South Summit, a meeting of the G77 + China, took place in Kampala from Sunday to Monday following the NAM summit.

 

US Secretary of State Blinken visits Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Angola

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his four-day trip to Africa on Thursday after visiting Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Angola. The trip focussed on deepening security and economic cooperation in the region, particularly in view of the tense security situation in the Sahel region and the increasing influence of China and Russia. The first stop on his trip took Blinken to the Cabo Verdean capital Praia, where he met with Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva on Monday. Together they visited the harbour of Porto da Praia, which had been modernised with funds from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through which the US government awards grants to finance specific programmes to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and to strengthen institutions. A total of 150 million US dollars has already been channelled into the island state. Last month, the US government agency also announced that it was working on a third package with Cabo Verde as part of the MCC. A Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the two countries in maritime defence was also signed in December. Blinken then flew on to Côte d’Ivoire, where he met with President Alassane Ouattara for talks. Here he announced investments totalling 45 million US dollars to prevent conflicts and promote stability in the region. The West African state borders three countries – Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso – where there have been unconstitutional changes of government in recent years. Blinken also met with the Head of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, at the headquarters of AfricaRice – the pan-African centre for rice research, development and capacity building – in Abidjan. The meeting focussed on the topic of food security and how to cooperate more closely in the area of food production. Blinken announced that the US will provide the AfDB with 9.5 million US dollars from the global initiative “Feed the Future” for the Africa Agricultural Transformation Initiative (TAAT), a project to promote smart agriculture. Blinken is the first US Secretary of State to visit the AfDB and its work to date, although the US is the second largest shareholder of all AfDB Member States and the largest cumulative contributor to the African Development Fund. Blinken then travelled to Nigeria, whose neighbouring country Niger had also recently experienced a violent change of power. Accordingly, the talks with his Nigerian counterpart Yusuf Maitama Tuggar and President Bola Tinubu also focussed on cooperation in the security sector. The US is not only Nigeria’s largest foreign investor, but also works closely with the West African state as part of an intensive security cooperation against Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa. Blinken ended his four-day trip on Thursday in the Angolan capital Luanda, where he was received by President João Lourenço. The central topic here was the ongoing conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the question of what concrete solutions could be found to achieve lasting peace. Angola is involved in the so-called Luanda Process for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the neighbouring state and the Nairobi Process, a mediation initiative of the East African Community (EAC) that is working towards the same goal. Blinken pledged US support for African peace efforts in the region. In addition, the strengthening of bilateral relations was discussed at a meeting with Angola’s Foreign Minister Téte António, particularly with regard to cooperation on the major infrastructure project of the Lobito Atlantic Railway. The 1,300-kilometre-long railway line, which connects the Atlantic port of Lobito in Angola with the copper and cobalt mines of the Copperbelt in the DRC, is currently being modernised with financial support from the US amounting to 250 million US dollars and is to be extended by a further 800 kilometres in order to reach the landlocked state of Zambia and connect it to the port in the future. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the UN, was also in the region at the same time as the Secretary of State; she visited the West African states of Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. It remains to be seen whether President Joe Biden, who did not visit the African continent last year contrary to his promise, will make up for this this year against the backdrop of the US election campaign.

 

In other news

At this year’s Oscars, the Ugandan film The People’s President and the Tunisian production Four Daughters are in the running for Africa in the category “Best Documentary”. A total of five films have been nominated for this category. In The People’s President, directors Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp tell the story of Ugandan politician and musician Bobi Wine. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, ran as an opposition candidate against long-term president Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 presidential elections and was seen by large sections of the population as a beacon of hope for a more democratic Uganda. After he lost the election according to the official results, protests broke out across the country. Four Daughters by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania is about a mother in Tunisia whose two eldest daughters have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. This is Hania’s second Oscar nomination after 2021. The award ceremony will take place on 10 March.

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