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Diplomatic crisis between Cameroon and Chad resolved
On Wednesday, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Cameroonian Minister of State and Secretary General to the President, announced that the diplomatic crisis between Chad and Cameroon over the joint oil pipeline had been resolved. Ngoh Ngoh had travelled to the Chadian capital N’Djamena on Wednesday as special envoy of Cameroonian President Paul Biya for talks with Chad’s interim President Mahamat Déby in an attempt to smooth the diplomatic waters. Last Friday, Chad recalled its ambassador to Cameroon – the latest escalation in the dispute over cooperation on the over 1000 km oil pipeline between the two neighbouring countries. The pipeline connects oil fields in the south of Chad with a floating storage and offloading vessel on the coast of Cameroon. On the Cameroonian side, the pipeline is operated by the private company Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO). In addition to the Cameroonian state hydrocarbons company (Société National des Hydrocarbures, SNH) and international private operators, Chad and its state hydrocarbons company (Société des Hydrocarbures du Tchad, SHT) also have shares in COTCO. Last Friday, UK operator Savannah Energy had agreed to divest shares in Cameroon’s SNH. The acquisition, which is expected to take effect in the second half of 2023, would expand SNH’s stake in COTCO to 15.17%. This would increase Cameroon’s influence over infrastructure and boost its revenues. Chad expresses its annoyance because the contract contradicts COTCO’s conventions and statutes, which prohibit private operators, including Savannah Energy, from selling their shares to the two states. Previously, Chad had signed an agreement to acquire shares from the private shareholder Petronas, which would have given Chad a total stake of 53.77% in COTCO and thus control over the pipeline. Cameroon, however, blocked this process. This is the first diplomatic crisis of this magnitude between the two neighbouring countries, which are considered important partners and actors in the volatile region. It remains to be seen whether this will finally end the disputes over the oil pipeline and return diplomatic relations to normality.
Summit on ATMIS troop withdrawal
A Summit of Heads of State and government of troop contributing countries to the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) was held in Entebbe, Uganda, on Thursday to assess progress in the implementation of the mandate as well as the ATMIS withdrawal plan. At the summit, convened by Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the request of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the leaders of Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti reaffirmed the already agreed withdrawal of 2.000 troops from Somalia in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2670 (2022) and 2628 (2022) by 30 June 2023. Somalia’s president has repeatedly spoken out in favour of extending the mandate. Furthermore, a joint evaluation of the situation regarding the withdrawal of another 3,000 ATMIS soldiers was announced. However, the Heads of State and Government emphasised that they would continue to support Somalia in other ways in stabilising the country and in the fight against terrorism. The plan of the African Union calls for a four-stage withdrawal of ATMIS troops from Somalia by 31 December 2024, with the first phase originally scheduled to begin on 31 December 2022, but postponed to 30 June 2023 to complete the training of Somali troops. At the end of the mandate, all security operations in the country are to be handed over to Somali forces. The ATMIS mission was established in 2002 as the successor mission to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to ensure the military and institutional autonomy of the Somali government during the withdrawal of African Union troops. A central component here is also the training and support of the Somali Security Forces (SSF) in their fight against the al-Shabaab militia. ATMIS includes about 19,600 soldiers, close air support, indirect fire support, evacuation of wounded, medical care for SSF troops, training of Somali troops as well as the provision of ammunition, water, medicine and field shelters. Together, SSF and ATMIS forces succeeded in liberating large areas from the control of al-Shabaab militia.
In other news
The German-Jewish journalist Ruth Weiss will today be awarded the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa. The Order is South Africa’s highest national award for foreign nationals and honours the 98-year-old’s contribution to the liberation struggle and highlighting injustices in South Africa. Born in Germany in 1924, her family was forced to emigrate to South Africa in 1936 when the Nazis seized power and persecution of Jews was increasing. There, with the introduction of the apartheid system, she was once again confronted with institutionalised racism and state oppression. Driven by her personal experiences, Ruth Weiss decided to become actively involved in the fight against apartheid – through journalism. She reported critically on the policies of the apartheid regime in German- and English-language media, thus exposing the crimes and injustices of apartheid to the world. The honour is also the first public recognition of Ruth Weiss in South Africa. In Germany, she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st Class, in 2014 and the Honorary Award of the German Africa Foundation in 2019; in 2020, Ruth Weiss was appointed Honorary President of the PEN Centre for German-language writers abroad.