News Highlights: Port dispute Somaliland, Sarkozy accused of receiving funds from Gadhafi, EU-ACP talks for Post-Cotonou

In this week’s news highlights: Many arrested after upheavals in Eritrea following death of respected elder; Port dispute between Somaliland and Somalia may cause conflict, Somaliland minister warns; Eritrea accused by Ethiopia over security destabilization; Amnesty International protests South Sudanese men sentenced to death; Former French President Sarkozy faces accusations of illegal campaign funding from Gadhafi; Talks between EU and ACP on Post-Cotonou agreement; EU to provide further training to Libyan coastguard; Human Rights Watch says Libya is not ready for elections.


Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: After the death of respected Eritrean,many arrested in Eritrea
Following the burial of Haji Musa, a respected Eritrean elder who had been arrested for protesting government orders and died in prison, the Eritrean authorities arrested hundreds of people, the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea said. A UN investigation had said in 2016 that the leaders of Eritrea should be charged with crimes against the humanity including torture, murder, rape end enslaving civilians.

Somaliland: Port dispute may destabilize Horn of Africa, Somaliland minister says
Somalia declared a planned naval port in Somaliland illegal earlier this month. The naval base is to be completed in June this year, to be used by U.A.E. Ethiopia also has a 19 percent stake in the project. The Foreign Minister of the semi-autonomous Somaliland, which is not recognized as independent by Somalia, warns that this could lead to conflict in the Horn of Africa region.

Ethiopia: accusations towards Eritrea of destabilization efforts, the latter rejects allegations
Ethiopia has accused Eritrea of supporting “destructive” groups aiming to destabilize its security. The Ethiopian state television described that Ethiopia’s emergency council captured weapons from groups trying to smuggle arms in Ethiopia from Eritrea. Eritrea is said to have rejected such allegations.

South Sudan: Two men sentenced to death by High Court in Juba
Amnesty international is protesting the sentencing of death by hanging of two men in South Sudan. The two have reportedly been sentenced for various reasons, without lawyers present. Both the men have filed appeals against their sentences. In a report, Amnesty International has written that it is “seriously concerned that South Sudanese courts continue to impose the death penalty, including in light of credible information that the court proceedings for James Gatdet and William Endley likely did not meet international standards for a fair trial.”


France: Nicolas Sarkozy accused of receiving illegal campaign funding from Muammar Gadhafi
A panel of French judges formally started investigating allegations that Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 successful electoral campaign benefitted from millions of euros by Gadhafi, misappropriating Libyan public funds. Sources say that these accusations are the most serious against a French former President in decades and “they also raise questions about the motives behind Sarkozy’s decision to spearhead a NATO operation against the Gadhafi regime in 2011.” Sarkozy says he is “accused without any physical evidence”.

European Union: Talks between EU and ACP on Post-Cotonou agreement
On March 20, the Development Committee of the European Parliament held a public hearing regarding the negotiations between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and the European Union (EU) for a new comprehensive agreement to manage their relationship after the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020.  The aim of the new Agreement will aim at addressing the possible gaps of the already existing document, renewing the relationship between the signatories. However, the exchange showed that the relationship of the two is fragmented, with the EU seeming optimistic and the African Union (AU) feeling left out.

European Union: further training foreseen for Libyan coastguard to stem migrant flows
Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, chief of the EU naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea,  stated that the European Union is going to provide further training to some 300-500 additional people for the Libyan coastguard. Credendino said that it has been difficult to confirm the UN’s allegations that link smugglers with the Libyan coastguards. Furthermore, he said the EU’s navel operation, Operation Sophia, has destroyed a number of intercepted smuggler boats; but that  it was not possible for the operation to stop smaller rubber boats.


HRW says that under current circumstances, Libya cannot have elections
In a situation where the criminal justice system has collapsed, free speech is limited and citizens are discriminated and intimidated, NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. The organization says that the UN has to urge Libya to first create the right circumstances and then hold a general election. “Libya today couldn’t be further away from respect for the rule of law and human rights, let alone from acceptable conditions for free elections,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at the human rightsgroup.