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ECOWAS Tells Mali to Prepare Election Roadmap

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Mali must quickly prepare its plan for elections to replace the transitional government put in place after the August coup, ECOWAS has said.

An Ecowas delegation, which has just finished a two-day mission to Mali, urged all parties to engage in more dialogue so as to “guarantee peace and stability in the country”.

News Central reports that elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was deposed in a coup on August 18. With economic sanctions from ECOWAS, AU and other organisations, the coup leaders announced a new government with some of the top posts going to military officials.

The ministries of defence, territorial administration, security and national reconciliation are headed by military personnel, as Mali begins an 18-month transition back to civilian rule.

Retired colonel Bah Ndaw was named as interim president and colonel Assimi Goita, who led the coup, as vice president. Veteran diplomat Moctar Ouane was named interim prime minister.

When the transitional government was set up five weeks after the takeover its role was to prepare the country for the return to civilian rule within 18 months – and as a consequence, Ecowas lifted sanctions imposed in the aftermath of the coup.

The delegation also commented on a recent alleged attempt to destabilise the transition, which has led to the arrests of several civilians.

It urged the authorities to ensure their cases were dealt with fairly under the law.

The mission will report on its visit and make recommendations to the region’s heads of state at a summit in a few weeks.

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Namibia Proceeds With Auction of 170 Elephants on January 29

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Namibia on Friday said it will go ahead with plans to auction 170 high value wild elephants on January 29

The Namibian government is selling the elephants to drought and an increase in elephant numbers, despite objection from conservation groups.

The nation had announced in December 2020 that an increase in incidents of human-elephant conflict had motivated the sale of the large mammal that is at risk of extinction due to poaching and ecological factors.

The government said it would auction the animals to anyone in Namibia or abroad who could meet the strict criteria, which include quarantine facilities and a game-proof fence certificate for the property where the elephants will be kept.

Several online petitions from animal rights groups and conservationists have since gained traction, calling on the Namibian government to stop its planned sell-off of entire herds to the highest bidder.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together, said selling the elephants will not solve problems of human-elephant conflict (HEC) and is contrary to the guidance of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), of which Namibia is a member.

“Selling elephants will not prevent HEC. The most effective way to mitigate the problem of conflict is by working with communities to ensure habitats are managed properly and solutions found to ensure wildlife and the people who live alongside them are protected,“ Neil Greenwood, IFAW regional director for southern Africa, said.

“This has been proven time and again throughout southern Africa.’’

Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, however, said Namibia will not allow communities living with elephants to suffer for the emotions of people that do not understand the situation on the ground.

“The ministry is doing the right thing for conservation,” he said.

Namibia’s conservation drive, which has seen its elephant population jump from around 7,500 in 1995 to 24,000 in 2019, according to government figures, has largely enjoyed international support.

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UN Lays Out Timeline for Libya’s Transitional Government

Plans for the new government has raised fears that powerful figures who stand to lose influence could attempt to sabotage the transition process.

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The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) says nominations for leadership of a new unified transitional government must be made in a week, and voting on candidates would take place in early February.

Plans for the new unified transitional government has raised fears that powerful figures who stand to lose influence could attempt to sabotage the process.

Back in November, the UN gathered 75 Libyan participants in a political dialogue in Tunis with the purpose of laying out a road map to national elections which they set for late December.

After weeks of arguing, the dialogu members finally agreed this week, on rules for selecting a new presidential council consisting of three members, as well as a prime minister to oversee the run-up to the election.

On Thursday, the UN said from Feb 1-5, dialogue members would vote on candidates for the new government’s leadership positions in Switzerland.

At separate UN-backed talks in Geneva, Libyan envoys on Tuesday voted to pass a mechanism to choose an interim executive that will govern until the December elections, according to the UN, calling it a “significant step forward.”

In a report submitted to the UN Security Council (UNSC) earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the “tangible progress” recorded in recent months to tackle the Libyan crisis which has lasted for almost a decade, and reiterated that all foreign troops and mercenaries must evacuate the country by the end of the week.

Structured around the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, the talks in Geneva have been taking place amid a heavy international push to reach a peaceful settlement to the civil war in Libya. All previous diplomatic initiatives have failed.

In the Libyan conflict, forces loyal to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and those of its rival, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, had formally agreed on a cease-fire in October last year. After Haftar launched a failed offensive on Tripoli in April 2019, the two sides have returned to negotiations. Since then, the capital city has been kept under the control of the GNA.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Russia have been the main supporters of Haftar. Media report that Russia has primarily supported Haftar’s forces by deploying mercenaries of the Wagner Group to the North African country in their fight to seize power from the GNA in Tripoli.

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Ramaphosa Signs Party Funding Act

By the signing of this act, all parties represented in Parliament and provincial legislatures would have to disclose who their funders are.

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The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Political Party Funding Act which will compel political parties to disclose their funders from April 2021.

The law had been passed by parliament two years ago and on Friday, president Ramaphosa announced that the law will come into effect on April 1.

By the signing of this act, all parties represented in Parliament and provincial legislatures would have to disclose who their funders are.

“The implementation of the Political Party Funding Act will have far-reaching consequences for good governance and ethical political activity. It will strengthen the confidence of citizens in the democratic political process and enable them to assert their right to information,” Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale said.

“At the same time, through the establishment of the Represented Political Party Fund, which provides public funding to parties, and the Multi-Party Democracy Fund, which funds parties from private sources, the act seeks to ensure that all represented political parties receive sufficient funds for their work in a fair and equitable manner,” he said.

“The commencement of the Political Party Funding Act on April 1 is part of the commitment of this administration to improving transparency and accountability in government,” Seale said.

The president’s acting spokesperson further said Ramaphosa has commended all stakeholders involved for the work they have put in, for the act to be passed.

He also called on political parties to work collectively in order to ensure that the law will be successfully implemented.

Civil society as well as the now defunct Idasa have been pushing for Parliament to pass a law such as this one to ensure transparency.

Three years ago, the ANC in Parliament proposed that the party funding act be passed to force parties to disclose their funders.

Most of the parties agreed with the plan and as such went on to pass the law.

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