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CWA # 782, 23 August 2022

NIAS AFRICA WEEKLY
IN FOCUS | Lavrov's visit to Africa

  NIAS Africa Team

Africa Weekly #25 & 26, Vol. 1, No. 25 & 26
23 August 2022

IN FOCUS
Lavrov’s Visit to African States and its Strategic Significance 
Lavrov’s visit to Africa coincides with French President Emmanuel Macron’s and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s visits to Africa. Sensing the Western campaign gaining momentum, the visit portrays Russia’s diplomatic offensive, especially among its allies in the non-western world in support of invasion in Ukraine.
Dr S Shaji

From 24 July to 27 July, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister visited four major African countries as part of a larger Russian plan to diplomatically engage with Africa in aggressive fashions, especially in the domain of food and energy. The entire continent is reeling under a severe food and energy crisis amid the Russia-Ukraine war. In fact, this is the first time a top diplomat from Russia has visited Africa, since the war. The itinerary of the visit included Egypt, Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia. On 24 July, Lavrov began his African tour in Egypt, which is deeply affected by the conflict in Europe, as the country imports 80 per cent of its wheat requirement from Ukraine and Russia. Most African countries face similar struggles with the food crisis. Apart from food, strategic and security related requirements, many African countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for oil, fertilizers and pesticides. Further, the war has an additional spillover effect with huge diversion of Western funds towards the rehabilitation of Ukrainian people, displaced out of war. Traditionally, African countries used to benefit out of the substantial Western aid to the non–Western regions.

Sensing the Western campaign gaining momentum that it is responsible for the current crisis, Russia is on a diplomatic offensive, especially among its allies in the non-Western world which mainly includes Africa. It is noteworthy that 17 African countries abstained from voting against Russia condemning the latter's invasion of Ukraine. Many African countries depend on Russia for various purposes ranging from food import to accessing military, aid and technology.  At the same time, around 29 countries voted against Russia which are predominantly Western allies like Kenya and Nigeria. Countries like South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Ethiopia (till recently was a dependable ally to the West) had stronger ties with Russia since the Soviet days. The Soviet Union supported national liberation movements and anti-racial movements across the continent, along with its support to Africa’s post-colonial economic development. Throughout his visit, Lavrov emphasized this crucial dimension of Russia-Africa relations. Furthermore, he lauded the ‘independent’ position that African countries took vis-a-vis the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Diplomatically, Lavrov’s visit was planned to reassure its allies that the African interests would not be harmed by the war. Apart from the persistent cooperation in technology and security, the assurance also focused on continued supply of essential commodities including wheat, other grains, oil and fertilizers. In fact, Russian companies (the regular industrial and business corporations) are quite active across the continent, apart from strategic corporations; for instance, Russian companies Rosatom (nuclear energy) and Wagner Group provide security services to several African countries fighting internal instabilities.

In Egypt, Lavrov met President Abdel Fattah-el-Sissi. The country maintains a good rapport with Russia and the West. For Russia, Egypt is the core of the Arab League, an influential entity in the Middle-East. In addition to extracting Russia’s assurance for the food export of wheat and other grains, Egypt expects Russia’s mediatory role in resolving the conflicts involving Ethiopia on Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt fears that the dam will restrict the flow of the Nile downstream towards its territory.  In the Republic of Congo, Lavrov visited President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been in power since 1979 (except between 1992 and 1997). It is for the first time a Russian leader visits Congo, since its independence in 1960. It is to be noted that Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is much bigger compared to the neighboring Republic of Congo. Lavrov further proceeded to visit Uganda, another ally to Russia with whom it has a long-standing relation for more than fifty years, starting with Soviet support to Uganda's anti-colonial struggles. Recently, Uganda has developed deep-rooted linkages with Russia that ranges from agriculture, space technology to various digital technologies. Apart from the formal relations between these two states, the leaders of Russia and Uganda, Vladimir Putin and Yoweri Museveni have strong personal relations. Though Uganda maintained a neutral position on Russia-Ukraine war, there was a general pro-Russia position in public parlance among Ugandan leaders (Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of Museveni).

Lavrov ended his Africa visit in Ethiopia, which was a major ally to the West, but strained relations over the conflict in the Tigray region. In Ethiopia, Lavrov supported the official line of the Ethiopian Government on the Tigray issue and accused the West of meddling with the internal affairs of the country. Lavrov tried to project Russia as a respectful friend of Africa. President Abiy Ahmed, once a favorite political figure in the Western discourse, faces confrontation for his role in the Tigray conflict which killed and displaced thousands. Russia finds this ‘essentiality’ as an opportunity to further its ties with Ethiopia, a pivotal State in the Horn of Africa.

Apart from gaining new allies and strengthening its ties with old allies in support of invasion in Ukraine, Russia is trying to strengthen its relations with Africa in general. In a way, Lavrov was portraying victimhood for Russia as it was ‘illegally’ sanctioned, which led to skyrocketing food and oil prices. In other words, it was trying to quell the impression that Russia is responsible for the blockade of oil and food grains from Ukraine through the Black Sea. Lavrov also indicated that the second Russia-Africa summit would take place in mid 2023. Russia wants to convey that COVID-19 pandemic crisis and western policies/interventions have contributed to the worsened crises and not the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia assured all African States that the food import, especially, wheat from Ukraine through the Black Sea will resume soon (both Russia and Ukraine have signed a bilateral agreement on 22 July to resume wheat export). At the same time, Lavrov’s visit coincided with the visits by Immanuel Macron, the French President, to Africa and Joe Biden, the US President, to the Middle East, making the region a crucial theater of fierce diplomatic engagements on the part of major powers.


AFRICA IN BRIEF 
10 August – 23 August 
By Anu Maria Joseph 

KENYA 
Opposition rejects the election results after Deputy President William Ruto declared the winner 
On 16 August, Raila Odinga, major opponent to William Ruto who won Kenya’s presidential elections, rejected the election results saying the figures are “null and void”. He said: “What we saw yesterday was a travesty and a blatant disregard of the constitution of Kenya.” On 15 August, according to the results announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), William Ruto won the elections to be the fifth president of Kenya. The announcement was delayed after scuffles and allegations of vote rigging by Odinga supporters. Four election commissioners said that they could not support the “opaque” vote count before the results were declared. Juliana Cherera, the vice Chairperson of IEBC said: “We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced because of the opaque nature of this last phase of the general election.” Odinga supporters staged protests and blocked roads in Kisumu and Nairobi. Ruto received 50.49 per cent of the vote, while his opponent Raila Odinga received 48.85 per cent, marking a narrow victory. Ruto, 55, Deputy President of Kenya since 2013, runs first time in presidential elections, but fell out with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who backed Odinga. The new elected president said: “I want to commit to the people of Kenya that I will build on the foundation that President Kenyatta and I put together, and take this country to the next level.” (“Kenya’s defeated Odinga calls presidential election outcome a "travesty’’,” France24, 16 August 2022, “Kenya election result: William Ruto wins presidential poll,” BBC, 16 August 2022, "Ruto's supporters celebrate disputed election results," Africanews, 16 August 2022)

SIERRA LEONE 
Anti-government protests: dozens including six police officers killed 
On 11 August, BBC reported, police authorities said dozens of civilians including six police officers were killed in the anti-government protests. Following the violence, a nationwide curfew has been imposed. About 130 people have been arrested. The protesters were blocking roads, throwing rocks and burning tyres perpetuating the violence. The armed officers are patrolling the streets and using tear gas to contain the violence. The popular demonstrations are taking place in Freetown, Makeni and Kamakwie regions. Longstanding tensions with the ruling government exacerbated with the rising prices of cost of living, corruption and police brutality. The protesters demanded for the removal of President Julius Maada Bio. President Bio said: “Of course what happened was definitely not a protest, it was terrorism at the highest. We have a few Sierra Leoneans who live in the diaspora who have threatened to unleash terror in Sierra Leone.” Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said: “lives of both policemen and civilians were lost”, without giving further details. Meanwhile, ECOWAS condemned the violence and called for “all to obey law and order and for the perpetrators of the violence to be identified and brought before the law”. (“Sierra Leone imposes curfew amid anti-government protests,” Al Jazeera, 10 August 2022, “Smoke and tear gas as Sierra Leone protests continue,” BBC, 11 August 2022, "Sierra Leone protests are acts of terror - president,” BBC, 12 August 2022) 

GUINEA 
Military government dissolves opposition coalition 
On 10 August, the military government issued a decree dissolving the leading opposition movement, accused of carrying out violent demonstrations which were said to be banned. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups, led the protests that overthrew the former president Alpha Conde last year. FNDC led demonstrations have been going on over the military government’s reluctance to return to civilian rule. The opposition alliance was dissolved stating its behavior threatens national unity and peace. (Will Ross, “Guinea junta dissolves opposition coalition,” BBC, 10 August 2022) 

MALI 
France’s last troops leave, ends nine year deployment 
On 16 August, France said its final troops of Operation Barkhane left Mali, ending a nine year bilateral military cooperation. The French military statement said: “Today at 1pm Paris time [11:00 GMT] the final contingent of the Barkhane forces still on Malian territory crossed the border between Mali and Niger.” On 15 August French Presidency said: “France remains engaged in the (wider) Sahel (region), in the Gulf of Guinea and the Lake Chad region with all partners committed to stability and to the fight against terrorism.” In 2013, France initially intervened in the country at request by Malian authorities under Operation Serval, to fight Tuareg separatists. The withdrawal comes after fallen relations between Paris and Bamako, which currently maintains close relations with Russia. (“Last French troops leave Mali, ending nine-year deployment,” Al Jazeera, 16 August 2022) 

The military junta receives Russian military jets and helicopter 
On 10 August, the Mali military government received five military jets and a combat helicopter from Russia. Russia has become a close ally for Mali in its fight against jihadist militancy. The relations between the countries have grown since the coup in May 2021. The Junta’s decision to hire Russian mercenaries following the second coup was said to be the reason for France’s pullout from the country. The Jihadist attacks have increased recently. On 7 August, nearly 17 soldiers and four civilians were killed in an attack by the militants in the town of Tessit. (Will Ross, “Mali junta receives Russian jets and helicopter,” BBC, 10 August 2022) 

42 soldiers killed in Islamist attack 
On 11 August, BBC reported, Mali authority says nearly 42 soldiers were killed in an Islamist attack on 7 August. The officials added, another 22 troops were wounded and 37 Islamic State militias were killed. The attack took place at Tessit, a town sharing borders with Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Following the attack, thousands of residents fled the area. (Mark Pivac, “Mali troops death toll from attack rises to 42,” BBC, 11 August 2022) 

Germany suspends its operations in Mali 
On 12 August, Germany announced suspension of its operations in Mali after the military government denied flyover rights to a United Nations peacekeeping mission. A German defense ministry spokesperson said: “The Malian government has once again refused to give flyover rights to a fight planned for today.” Germany has decided to “suspend until further notice the operations of our reconnaissance forces and CH-53 transport flights,” he added. In response, the deputy chairman of the transitional government’s defense committee said: “I applaud this decision! We have long wished that the security of our territory in the air would be guaranteed exclusively by the Malian armed forces! We’ve always said that, and that’s what we wanted.” However Malian civil society groups expressed disappointment over the decision. Germany has been engaging with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a peacekeeping force deployed after the Tuareg rebellion of 2012. Mali, experiencing three military coups since 2012, is considered extremely unstable. Since the May 2021 coup, the transitional military government maintains close relations with Russia. (“Germany suspends military mission in Mali amid diplomatic tension,” Al Jazeera, 12 August 2022, “German military mission to Mali suspended,” DW, 15 August 2022) 

France accused of violating airspace and supporting armed groups 
On 17 August, Mali accused France for violating its airspace and sending weapons to militant groups. In a letter to the UN Security Council, Mali’s foreign affairs minister, Abdoulaye Diop said that France has violated its airspace more than 50 times this year, using drones, military helicopters and fighter jets. According to Reuters news agency, the letter said: “These flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them.” In response, the French Embassy replied: “France has obviously never supported, directly or indirectly, these terrorist groups, which remain its designated enemies across the planet.” Meanwhile , On 15 August France announced its complete withdrawal of its troops from Mali, ending a nine year fighting the Islamist militants. (“Mali accuses France of sending weapons to armed groupsAl Jazeera, 17 August 2022) 

New military prime minister appointed to the interim government 
On 22 August, Mali appointed a new interim prime minister, as reports say civilian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga has been admitted to hospital. The new Prime Minister, Col. Abdoulaye Maiga was previously minister of territorial administration and government spokesperson. The most senior government positions are held  by the military as Col. Abdoulaye Maiga appointed the new Prime Minister. He is a major critic of France, accusing Paris of being neo-colonial and involvement in Malian security and democracy. (“Mali appoints new interim military prime minister,” BBC, 22 August 2022) 

ETHIOPIA 
Government and the Tigray rebels to begin peace talks 
On 17 August, BBC reported, a committee organized by the Ethiopian government with the Tigrayan forces with the objective to end the civil war said that it is working with the African Union to begin peace talks quickly. The committee in a statement said that preparations are underway to “create conditions that will enable a ceasefire to be declared” and basic services to be restored in conflict affected areas. Though the federal government accepted the negotiations under the advice of the African Union, Tigrayan forces favored outgoing Kenyan President Uhuru Kennyatta to lead the talks. Since March, the amount of aid reaching Tigray has significantly increased after a humanitarian truce was agreed. However, no cessation of aggression has been declared. (“Tigray peace talks hasten to end war - committee,” BBC, 17 August) 

SOUTH SUDAN 
UN Mission condemns execution of rebels 
On 11 August, the UN Mission in South Sudan, Unmiss condemned the alleged execution of four rebel fighters in the northern oil-producing Unity state. The footage of the execution has been circulating on social media where three of the South Sudan People's Movement/Army(ESPN/A) being fired and the fourth rebel being burnt alive. The government condemned the executions. Meanwhile, South Sudan People's Defense Forces (SSPDF) said it will investigate the incidents. Nicholas Hysom, the head of Unmiss said: "Unmiss joins the government in expressing grave concern over reports that four officers from the rebel SSPM/A have been summarily executed in Mayom county." (“UN condemns execution of South Sudan rebels,” BBC, 11 August 2022) 

80 civilians killed in ethnic violence 
On 16 August, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) revealed that in July alone at least 80 civilians were killed in Eastern Equatoria state. Ethnic clashes in Kapoeta were the reasons behind the killings, though it is not clear what triggered the clashes. The Ocha says more than 17,500 people were displaced due to the violence. Rising food insecurity, inter-communal violence, conflict and disease outbreaks worsened the situation. (Nichola Mandil, “Over 80 killed in South Sudan recent ethnic violence,” BBC, 16 August 2022)

SOMALIA 
Prime Minister pledges to take action after the deadly hotel siege 
On 22 August, Somali Prime Minister Hamsa Abdi Barre pledged to take severe action on officials who failed to prevent the deadly al-Shabab attack on Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu. He said:  “We cannot tolerate a repeat of what happened, those who neglected their duties would be held accountable”. Health Minister Ali Hajji Aden said that 21 people were killed and 117 wounded during the 35-hour seige between the security forces and al-Shabab militants. The al-Shabab armed group linked to al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. The fighters of the armed group entered the Hayat hotel on 19 August and triggered explosions and gunfire. The hotel is known to be frequented by government officials. The attack is a major incident since Somalia's new leader took office in May.  (“Somali forces battle to end deadly hotel siege in Mogadishu,” Al Jazeera, 19 August 2022, Abdi Dahir, “Somali PM vows action after deadly hotel siege,” BBC, 22 August 2022)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO 
UN peacekeeping troops leave eastern town amid protests 
On 19 August, a DR Congo government official reported  that UN peacekeeping forces (Monusco) in the country left the eastern town of Butembo over the deadly protests last month. Gen Constant Kongba Ndima, the governor of North Kivu province said: “Monusco has already left. As for the equipment still in the city, we are going to meet in Goma with those in charge of the mission to see how to transfer it, as well as the few personnel remaining in Butembo.'' A Monusco spokesperson said: “the mission has proceeded to a temporary redeployment of its personnel outside Butembo…after consultations with local and national authorities.” In July, a popular protest erupted in North Kivu demanding the troops to leave the country. About 36 people were killed and 170 others were injured during the demonstrations that turned violent. (“UN peacekeepers leave Congolese town - governor,” BBC, 19 August 2022) 

SOUTH AFRICA 
South Africa’s Zulu nation to coronate new king amid tensions 
On 19 August, Al Jazeera reported, South Africa’s ethnic Zulu nation is preparing for the coronation for its new king on 21 August. King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini, son of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini will undergo the traditional ritual known as ukungena esibayeni marking the accession of the new king. The Zulu ethnic group is South Africa’s largest, having more than 12 million people mainly located in the KwaZulu-Natal province. They are historically recognised for their resistance to British colonialism under King Shaka Zulu between 1816 and 1828. It is also one of the richest and influential ethnic groups in the country. The coronation event is held despite a certain succession dispute within the royal family. (“South Africa’s Zulu nation to coronate new king amid tussle,” Al Jazeera, 19 August 2022) 

BURKINA FASO 
Army accused of killing 40 civilians 
On 15 August, BBC reported, The Collective Against Immunity and Stigmatization of Communities, a rights group based in Burkina Faso accused the army of killing more than 40 civilians in the village of Taffogo in Tougouri. It said the victim’s bodies were found on the road blindfolded with their hands tied. The Observatory of Human Dignity, another rights group, said most of the victims belong to the Fulani ethnic group of semi-nomadic herders. (“Burkina Faso troops accused of killing 40 civilians,” BBC, 15 August 2022) 

NIGERIA 
Inflation reaches 19.64 per cent, highest since 2005 
On 15 August, Reuters reported, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the inflation rate in Nigeria rose to 19.64 per cent, which is highest since the 24.32 per cent recorded in September 2005. In July, food prices hiked 22.02 percent, caused by increase in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, meat, oil and other items. Rising inflation and economic instability are major issues as the country looks forward  to the national election in February 2023. (“Nigeria's annual inflation rises to highest level since 2005,” Reuters, 15 February 2022)

Military reportedly kills 25 Islamist militants 
On 23 August the Nigerian military reported that it killed 25 militants belonging to Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) in a series of air strikes in the north-east of the country. Nigeria military spokesperson said that Iswap’s local leader Fiya Ba Yuram was also targeted, but it is not confirmed if he was killed. The military also said it killed an unidentified number of militants in another attack on 20 August, in Tunbuns area on the shores of Lake Chad and in Borno state. Iswap broke away from Boko Haram in 2016. The two groups continue to carry out attacks in the region. (Ishaq Khalid, “Dozens of Islamists killed in Nigeria, military says,” BBC, 23 August 2022) 

TUNISIA 
New constitution comes into effect granting the president wider powers 
On 17 August, Reuters reported, Tunisia's head of the Independent High Electoral Commission announced final results of the referendum on 16 August that the new constitution giving the president greater powers will come into effect. The new constitution has been approved by 96.4 per cent of votes in the referendum with 30 per cent turnout. The opposition accused the electoral board controlled by President Kais Saied of "fraud". Popular opinion upon the referendum is divided. For many, his move sparked fears of return of autocracy, while others welcomed being fed up with high inflation, unemployment and corruption. Meanwhile, the US State Department said that it noted "concerns that the new constitution includes weakened checks and balances that could compromise the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms." (“Tunisia approves a new constitution,'' Africanews, 17 August 2022) 

CHAD 
Rebel leaders return back to country amid the planned national dialogue
On 18 August, Al Jazeera reported, Timan Erdimi, leader of Union of Resistance Forces (URF), a prominent rebel group, returned back to the country amid planned national dialogue between civilians, armed oppositions and the transitional government. He was in exile for 17 years, trying to overthrow the late president Idriss Deby. He told the reporters: “I hope that everything will go well to achieve peace, reconciliation and serenity in the country”, adding his intention to transform  UFR into a political party. Another rebel leader Mahamat Nouri, head of the Union for Democracy and Development (UFDD) was also reported to return back to the country. On 8 August, the military government signed an agreement for peace with 40 other rebel groups in Qatar, where it planned to conduct a national dialogue on 20 August. The national dialogue is expected to lead to free and democratic elections and transfer of power to civilians. (“Rebel leader Timan Erdimi returns to Chad after 17 years in exile,” Al Jazeera, 18 August) 

ALGERIA 
At least 38 killed Algeria forest fires 
On 18 August, BBC reported, at least 38 were killed and dozens injured in the wild fires in northern Algeria. Authorities said that 39 fires are spreading in various parts of northern Algeria. The civil protection agency said that the city of El Tarf is the most affected with 16 fires. Northern Algeria is affected by wildfires every year. Since August, 106 fires have broken out in the country destroying 800 hectares of forest and 100,000 hectares of woodland. (“Algeria forest fires: At least 38 dead, emergency officials say,” BBC, 18 August 2022) 

BURUNDI 
Burundi soldiers deployed in DRC 
On 22 August, Burundi soldiers were deployed in eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the recently formed East African regional force. A spokesperson from the Burundi army told the Associated Press: “As you have seen, our soldiers have been received officially. They are in Congo on an official mission.” The deployment was confirmed by a DRC army spokesperson. He said: "The mandate is to track down all foreign and local armed groups in order to restore peace.” The rift between Rwanda and DRC which the former accused the latter of supporting the M23 rebel group, led to the East African Community creating the new regional force fighting militant groups. (“Burundi sends troops to DRC for regional peacekeeping force,” Al Jazeera, 22 August 2022) 

ANGOLA 
Angola to hold presidential elections, expects tight competition 
On 22 August, BBC reported, Angola will hold their presidential elections on 24 August, determining whether President João Lourenço wins a second and final five-year term in office. He is running for the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) against Angola’s largest opposition party Unita, headed by Adalberto Costa Junior and other six opposition candidates. Many of the analysts assume that MPLA, which ruled the country for 50 years since independence in 1975 will win again, while many others claim that this will be the country’s closest elections so far. One other section claims that after five decades under MPLA, young people in Angola hope for a change. (Israel Campos, “Angola braces for closely fought elections,” BBC, 22 August 2022) 

LIBYA 
UN raises concerns over political tensions 
On 23 August, the UN said it is deeply worried about the ongoing clashes between armed groups in Libya and the threat of using force in solving the country's political crisis. Libya has been in a political crisis for months after the country's eastern based parliament appointed a new prime minister, in spite of the fact that there was already a prime minister who refused to cede power without an election. There have been multiple armed fights between the supporters of both men, which the UN says concerned, having capability to reignite wider conflict after two years of comparative peace. (Mike Thomson, “UN fears Libya violence could reverse progress,” BBC, 23 August 2022) 

REGIONAL 
Blinken visits DRC and Rwanda, raises concerns over M23 rebels 
On 10 August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, raised concerns over the reports of Rwanda providing support to the rebels in DRC. He said: “All countries have to respect their neighbors’ territorial integrity. Any entry of foreign forces into the DRC must be done transparently and with the consent of the DRC.” On 11 August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Rwanda for talks on alleged cooperation with the M23 rebels operating in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Blinken is also expected to pressure the authorities for the release of Paul Rusesabagina, Oscar nominated, for the film Hotel Rwanda, whom the US government says is “wrongfully detained in Rwanda”. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges last year. The US State Department said: “Blinken will meet Rwandan leaders and civil society members on a range of key issues.” After talks with President Paul Kagame, Blinken expressed concerns over the human rights issues in the country. President Kagame replied: “No worries…there are things that just don't work like that here!!” The M23 rebels are controlling parts of North Kivu province in eastern DRC. (Marcus Erbe, “Blinken raises concern over human rights in Rwanda,” BBC, 11 August 2022;  Samba Cyuzuzo, “Blinken arrives in Rwanda amid row over M23 rebels,” BBC, 11 August 2022, “Ahead of Rwanda visit, Blinken says US 'concerned' by reports of Rwandan support for DRC rebels,” France24, 10 August 2022) 

Egypt announces suspension of its UN forces in Mali 
On 15 August, Egypt announced it will temporarily suspend its participation in the UN peacekeeping force in Mali over security concerns. The decision follows the killing of seven Egyptian troops serving the UN mission in Mali (Minusma) during multiple attacks since January. The move also comes after activists supporting Mali’s military government continue to demand Minusma’s expulsion over its perceived failure protecting civilians from attacks. The country has not mentioned how long the suspension would last. About 1,000 Egyptian soldiers are deployed in Mali as part of Minusma providing logistical support. (“Egypt to suspend role in UN force in Mali,” BBC, 15 August 2022) 

Egypt hosts Arab summit, GERD on agenda
On 23 August, BBC reported, according to Egyptian media, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi is hosting a five-nation Arab summit in the Mediterranean coastal city of New Alamein. The leaders of Bahrain, the UAE, Iraq and Jordan are reportedly attending the summit. The summit is expected to discuss the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya and Egypt and Sudan’s dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Renaissance Dam. (Israel Campos, “Egypt hosts Arab summit with Nile Dam row on agenda,” BBC, 23 August) 


About the authors 
Dr S Shaji is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad. Anu Maria Joseph is a Research Assistant at National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
 

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