Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cameroon: Pre-electoral battle surfaces as candidate lists are rejected

On 28 March, the Supreme Court, sitting in place of the Constitutional Council, will begin hearing complaints filed by several political parties, including the CPDM, who want to compete for the election. Their lists were rejected by Elections Cameroon (Elecam) which is in charge of organising elections in the country. A 20 March statement from Elecam announced that 23 of the lists of candidates contesting the senatorial election had been rejected while 17 were retained. Not all the parties whose lists were rejected decided to petition so the Constitutional Council will start examining 15 appeals and has ten days to rule on the cases.

Three of the eight parties that had initially entered the race were booted out and surprisingly, six of the CPDM lists were among those rejected for various reasons. Among other reasons, the exclusions were due to poor compilation of files or application for the ballot by several factions of some political parties.

For more news and expert analysis about Cameroon, please see Cameroon Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

Military plane crashes

A Brazilian-made EMB-314 Super Tucano military aircraft crashed about 7km south of Aoujeft (c. 300 miles NE of Nouakchott) on the Adrar plateau at 10:50 on 18 March. The plane, which was at first reported to have been on a training mission, was actually on a test flight after undergoing maintenance.
The plane had two people on board. Captain Ahmed Taleb Ould Aheimed, who was piloting the aircraft, survived with only slight injuries. The mechanic, Sergeant Boubacar M'Bodj, was killed.
With French assistance, the Mauritanian army had established a training centre for pilots and technicians at Atar more than two years ago in order to respond to the AQIM terrorist attacks that had begun on the country in 2005. A military source indicated that the crash was the result of a “technical failure”, although an enquiry is being held.
This is the second military plane to crash in less than 12 months. In July 2012, a military plane crashed on the tarmac of Nouakchott airport, killing eight people.
For more news and expert analysis about Mauritania, please see Mauritania Politics & Security.
© 2013 Menas Associates

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Clearing out Tripoli's suburbs

The Zidan government's efforts to cleanse Tripoli's suburbs of its more undesirable elements have continued, with some degree of success. This week, the Joint Security Force, comprising elements from both the Interior and Defence Ministries, carried out a number of raids on buildings and farms, many of them owned by members of the former regime, in the surroundings of the capital which are being used by criminal gangs. These included the farms that belonged to the late former general secretary and NOC head Shukri Ghanem, as well as those of regime loyalists, General al-Hadi al-Taher Emberish and Dr Ahmed Mohammed Awidat, which have now been handed over to the local council.

The forces have rooted out gangs involved in the sale of alcohol, prostitution, drugs and illegal immigrants. In one raid carried out on 20 March in the Salahudinne area, the authorities confiscated 40 bottles of alcohol, as well as car ownership booklets and identity documentation. In another, they freed a family that was being held captive and that had seemingly been tortured. They also arrested a number of individuals.

While this security initiative is being presented as a means of cleansing the Tripoli suburbs of criminal elements, it also appears to be a way for the government to erode some of the power of the militias operating in and around the capital. Many of these armed groups use these farms on the outskirts of the city as places to congregate, store weapons and to relax. By raiding these buildings Zidan's government is also quietly targeting some of the militias.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focusand Libya Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Caspian: Sofaz confirms Tanap funding

The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (Sofaz) has confirmed that it will become a shareholder in the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (Tanap) project. Socar's president Rovnag Abdullaev said at the start of March that although the Azerbaijani state would – as earlier confirmed – retain 51% in the consortium, some of Socar's stake will be taken by Sofaz. The exact proportion has yet to be determined.

It had been widely reported that Sofaz would fund the majority of the pipeline, as it has funded previous large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Exactly how much Sofaz – as opposed to Socar, Turkish companies or the IOCs taking a stake – will contribute is not yet clear. Tanap is expected to cost $5 billion–7 billion.

For more news and expert analysis about the Caspian region, please see Caspian Focus.

© 2013 Menas Associates

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ghana: Vice Presidential candidate assassination threat

NPP accuses unnamed NDC officials of plotting to assassinate its vice-presidential candidate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. Dr Bawumia was involved in a serious accident on 17March when the tyres on the car in which he was travelling burst causing the vehicle to flip over several times. He was flown to Accra's Lister Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and later discharged.

Joy News reported on 18 March that the NPP's General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, believes that national security officials are behind a “plot” to assassinate Dr Bawumia and other leading members of the NPP. He allegedly claimed that security officials had tampered with the tires of the brand new vehicle in which Dr Bawumia was travelling. He also noted that the tires of National Patriotic Party (NPP) party chairman, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, had also burst under “bizarre circumstances” earlier in the weekend.

He is quoted as saying that the incident was a “desperate” attempt by the NDC and its security officials to wipe out Dr Bawumia and other key NPP party officials who are witnesses in the on-going presidential election petition at the Supreme Court.

Over the past couple of months the NPP has also accused the NDCof organising a police raid of an NPP research office and the burglary of the office of a party lawyer Gloria Akuffo. An NDC spokesperson described the allegations as “ridiculous.”

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Mercury-vapour levels in Paramaribo are still extremely high

Mercury-vapour levels in Paramaribo are still extremely high and urgent measures are required to reduce them.

The downside of the enormous growth of gold mining in Suriname is well known and a high price is being paid. Last year Suriname Politics & Security - 04.06.12 reported that dangerously high concentrations of mercury vapour were detected in the Brazilian neighbourhoods of Paramaribo. The Bureau of Public Health (BOG) took action and closed a number of gold processing companies.

Despite this, however, the air borne mercury vapour surroundingParamaribo still exceeds international standards. According to an Anton de Kom University researcher, Dennis Wip,, the levels of mercury vapour around the capital are eight times higher than the internationally acceptable levels. Wip has been measuring theconcentration of air borne vapour and found concentrations of between 7 to 8 micrograms per cubic metre while the World Health Organisation's (WHO) acceptable level is 1 microgram per cubic metre.

Paramaribo, which is a small city of only 200,000 inhabitants, reportedly produces six times more mercury vapour per capita than one of the most contaminated cities in China. Wip says that it is now urgent to establish environmental legal standards so that companies and individuals in the mining sector have the necessary rules and guidelines. The symptoms of mercury poisoning that have been diagnosed include permanent damage to the nervous system, hallucinations, exaggerated emotional reactions, suicidal tendencies and the premature termination of pregnancies. Wip observes, however, that such cases are seldom related to excessive exposure to mercury or mercury vapour. “It would have been better to have taken action yesterday instead of today,” says the scientist. “Workers in the gold mining sector, but also individuals who have nothing to do with those activities, are being exposed to severe health threats.”

For more news and expert analysis about Suriname, please see Suriname Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Ghana Gas Company signs MoU with Gasol's AfGen

The state-run Ghana Gas Company Ltd has signed an MoU with Gasol's AfGen subsidiary to provide additional gas supply to Ghana.
It is hoped that the agreement will provide a longer-term more secure gas supply to improve Ghana's power generation deficit and prevent the need for electricity rationing. A 28 February statement announcing the move said that AfGen and Ghana Gas proposed to “explore the establishment of various joint venture arrangements for the supply of imported natural gas into Ghana as well as the downstream sale and marketing of gas to power generators and industrial/mineral processing enterprises in Ghana”.
Gasol's CEO, Alan Buxton said, “We are very pleased that Ghana Gas has agreed to explore collaboration with AfGen in a broadly defined partnership, including the importation and supply of non-indigenous gas to customers in Ghana, thereby assisting in bridging the Ghanaian gas deficit for power generation.”
Ghana has experienced frequent power cuts in recent months because of the West African Gas Pipeline Company's inability to supply gas through its West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) which has been out of operation since August 2012 following an accident in the Togolese capital of Lome. Last month, President Mahama said during his State of the Nation address that Ghana's current erratic power supply had been causing him “sleepless nights” and promised to fast track the restoration of the WAGP, due for completion in April 2013.
For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.
© 2013 Menas Associates

Libya: Kidnappings on the rise

Interior Minister, Ashur Al-Shuwail admitted this week that kidnapping is becoming increasingly prevalent in the capital. Armed groups and militias, some of them part of the official security structures of the state, and most notably the Supreme Security Committee (SSC), have been indulging themselves in this practice for many months. Many of these abductions are undertaken out of revenge, with those deemed to have supported the former regime vulnerable to being hauled off at any time by unidentified armed groups to secret locations, where they are interrogated and tortured.

Others are kidnapped for money. The state clearly has little control over the practice. According to Al-Shuwail the Tripoli security directorate and the Tripoli Security

Committee carried out a joint raid this week to break into the headquarters of one of the militias operating in the capital. They were surprised to find thirty individuals unlawfully detained in its headquarters.

Meanwhile, on 2 March, residents from the Farnaj suburb of Tripoli attacked the headquarters of the Second Support Brigade, which comes under the Interior Ministry, after the death of local doctor Hussein Al-Turki. The latter seems to have been tortured and killed at the hands of the brigade because he had reportedly been trying to help a number of prisoners that it was holding to escape.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focusand Libya Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates