05/11/13: The BBC reports tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said. Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads. "Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors," Mr Annan told the BBC. It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said. The Africa Progress Report is released every May - produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela. African countries needed to improve governance and the world's richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said. The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in "highly opaque and secretive deals".
04/15/13: Al Jazeera reports the President of Chad announced Monday that the country’s army will be withdrawing from the conflict in Mali. The announcement comes three months after the French-led mission to oust al-Qaeda-linked fighters in northern Mali began, and just days after a suicide bombing killed three Chadian soldiers. “Chad’s army has no ability to face the kind of guerrilla fighting that is emerging in northern Mali. Our soldiers are going to return to Chad. They have accomplished their mission,” Chadian President Idriss Deby said. France has said it also wants to hand over responsibility for the mission to Malian and other African soldiers. The Chadians have been instrumental in helping French troops in the mountainous Kidal region, where elements of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other rebels are hiding out.
03/31/13: The New York Times reports Kenya’s Supreme Court Saturday unanimously upheld the election victory of Uhuru Kenyatta as the country’s president, dismissing allegations that the vote had been rigged. But almost immediately, protests erupted in some opposition strongholds, with stone-throwing mobs squaring off against Kalashnikov-toting police officers – and Kenyatta’s legal battles are hardly over. As Kenya’s next president, Kenyatta will soon be summoned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity, accused of using his vast family fortune to bankroll death squads during the chaos that exploded after Kenya’s last disputed election in 2007. He says he is innocent and that the charges are based on gossip, but many Western officials believe otherwise. Still, the US may now have little choice but to work with Kenyatta.
03/25/13: The Miami Herald reports Zimbabwe’s High Court Monday ordered the immediate release of a prominent human rights lawyer detained for eight days for obstructing justice. Court officials said Beatrice Mtetwa was asked to post a $500 bail and her release papers will be prepared Monday. High Court Judge Joseph Musakwa ruled that Mtetwa was following professional legal procedures when she demanded to see a search warrant from police at the offices of four officials in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. Those officials are accused of illegally compiling information on high level corruption and will appeal for bail later Monday. Mtetwa and the four officials deny any wrongdoing. Lawyers’ groups have cited the arrests as intimidation against opponents of President Robert Mugabe by loyalist police and officials ahead of elections around July.
03/18/13: BBC News reports the International Criminal Court in The Hague is set to hold a special hearing to review its case against Kenya’s President-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta. He denies accusations of instigating violence after the disputed 2007 election. The hearing comes a week after charges were dropped against Kenyatta’s co-accused, Francis Muthaura. Kenyatta says the charges against him are now compromised, but ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says she has additional evidence against him. Last week Bensouda said the case against Muthaura had been dropped as some witnesses were too scared to testify, while another had recanted his statement. At Kenyatta’s hearing today, lawyers will urge the judges to send the case back to the pre-trial chamber for judges to assess what remains of the evidence, and decide whether it is sufficient to go to trial.
03/11/13: Reuters reports French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that French and Chadian forces expect to secure the northeast region of Mali that is the stronghold of Islamist militants by the end of March. Le Drian said that while the results of DNA tests were still being awaited, it seemed likely that top al-Qaeda leaders in the region had been killed in recent fighting. His view on the timetable was in line with France’s goal to start winding down its eight-week-old military intervention in Mali in April and handing over to African forces. Le Drian said Friday at the end of a brief visit that French forces were now deep in the Islamists’ stronghold in the remote valleys of northern Mali and had uncovered weapons caches stockpiled by the al-Qaeda-linked fighters.
03/03/13: Reuters reports the UN Security Council will vote Wednesday on a draft resolution lifting an arms embargo on Somalia’s government for one year so it can beef up its army to combat Islamist fighters. Mogadishu has asked for the arms embargo to be lifted and the United States wants the Council to agree, but Britain and France have been wary of removing the ban in a country already awash with weapons. The draft resolution, drawn up by the UK, appears to propose a compromise: lifting the arms embargo for one year but keeping restrictions in place on heavy weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, howitzers, and cannons. Under the resolution, the embargo would not apply to other “weapons or military equipment or the provision of advice, assistance or training” to the Somali government.
02/23/13: The New York Times reports opening a new front in the drone wars against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama announced on Friday that about 100 American troops had been sent to Niger in West Africa to help set up a new base from which unarmed Predator aircraft would conduct surveillance in the region. The new drone base, located for now in the capital, Niamey, is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where insurgents had taken over half the country until repelled by a French-led force. In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about 100 people. A military official said the troops were largely Air Force logistics specialists, intelligence analysts and security officers.
02/10/13: BBC News reports a French judge has opened criminal proceedings against four men suspected of links with Islamist militant networks in west Africa. The four, who were detained near Paris on Tuesday, are being investigated for possible “association with a terrorist enterprise.” Reports say three are French and one is from Mali. French officials have said they were arrested in connection with the case of a French national arrested in Niger while trying to join Jihadist groups in Mali last year. The man was extradited to France, where criminal proceedings were launched against him in August. France increased its domestic terror threat level after French forces entered Mali on January 11 to push back militants who had captured Timbuktu and other parts of northern Mali.