The African Union’s peace and security chief Smail Chergui called Monday for member states to tackle the root causes of extremism, as he deplored the spread of “terrorism” in the Sahel.
“Terrorism is expanding,” Chergui told journalists on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, pointing in particular to countries on the Sahara’s southern rim.
“There are increasing numbers of terrorist movements, who attack civilian populations and institutions in these countries.”
“Almost on a daily basis, Burkina Faso now is facing criminal and terrorist attacks,” he said.
Chergui said the combination of extremist attacks, inter-ethnic conflict and clashes between pastoral and agricultural communities was leading to an “unprecedented high level of violence.”
He said that AU member states had agreed to address the scourge of extremism in a more comprehensive manner.
This meant not only through “military and security responses, but also other means in terms of governance, in making sure that no one is left on the road in terms of development, in terms of political engagement, in terms of justice,” he said.
He highlighted youth unemployment as a key challenge.
His comments echoed those of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took over as AU chair on Sunday with a call to tackle the root causes of extremism.
Chergui expressed disappointment in difficulties faced to finance the G5 Sahel force, a French-backed 5,000-man joint mission among the five nations on the front line: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.
The Islamist revolt in the Sahel took off after chaos engulfed Libya in 2011. Jihadist attacks erupted in northern Mali as Boko Haram arose in northern Nigeria.
The French army largely flushed jihadists from Mali, but they have gained ground in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, while Chad is battling unrest on its borders.
Lack of funding and training, as well as poor equipment, have hobbled the G5 Sahel initiative.
“The troops are ready, but there is no equipment,” said Chergui.
East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade
Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.
Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.
The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.
According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.
Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.
Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.
Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine
A French court has ruled against Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a year – long embezzlement process launched by a group of anti-corruption NGOs
Obiang was ordered to pay a $32.9 million fine. He also faces a suspended jail term of three years after a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money
Additionally, the Paris appeals court confirmed the seizure of his property, including a six-level mansion in Paris which had been valued at €107 million in 2012.
According to Marc-Andre Feffer of Transparency International France, the ruling is an important moment.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
His legal team has one final option for appeal left — they could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.
DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner
A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country’s artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, according to the country’s minister of mines, Willy Kitobo Samsoni.
DRC currently produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of which is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output.
The country recently granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.
According to Samsoni, the easiest way out is to be financed by the Congolese state, but if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, it will then have to enter into partnership with a company.
He also adds that plans for talks with financiers are on ground.
Samsoni further adds that the new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) will be managed independently by state mining company,Gecamines.