JOHANNESBURG — A high-profile and bitterly fought race for the top post in the African Union ended inconclusively on Monday, with neither the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon, nor his main challenger, South Africa’s home minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, securing enough votes to win.
The vote, which took place in the new glass-and-steel headquarters of theAfrican Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, underscored deep divisions in an organization created a decade ago to help Africa overcome its old colonial divisions and increase the continent’s power on the global stage.
The narrowly contested secret ballot vote pitted Mr. Ping, who has served as chairman of the African Union Commission since 2008, against Ms. Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa, the country with sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy and a diplomatic heavyweight.
South Africa’s government had hoped that Ms. Dlamini-Zuma would help give the African Union a more effective international voice. But other major African nations, like Nigeria and Kenya, had reservations about giving so much power to South Africa, and smaller nations fretted that their interests would be neglected.
“There is considerable fear and resentment about South Africa’s role,” said Steven Friedman, a political analyst and director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, a research institution here. “There are very serious fears about being dwarfed.”
South Africa had pulled out all the stops to lobby for the candidacy of Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, a highly respected government official who is also the former wife of South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma.
But neither she nor Mr. Ping, a senior diplomat and government official from the former French colony of Gabon, secured a two-thirds majority required to win. So the organization will hold a new election at its next meeting, in June in Malawi. Under African Union rules, neither Mr. Ping nor Ms. Dlamini-Zuma will be eligible to run for election then.
The African Union was created a decade ago out of the ashes of the Organization of African Unity, a continental body that was often derided as a dictator’s club defending the prerogatives and excesses of Africa’s cold war-era strongmen. Thabo Mbeki, who was then South Africa’s president, hoped to revive the organization as part of what he called an “African Renaissance.”
But the African Union has struggled to find a meaningful role, taking muddled stances on issues large and small. The organization has struggled to mount peacekeeping operations in Sudan — though it has made some headway with its operations in Somalia — and it has been inconsistent in responding to other crises on the continent.
Mr. Ping faced harsh criticism last year for being slow to respond to the crisis in Libya. Until his ousting and death last year, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya’s dictator, had been one of the African Union’s chief financial backers, a role now taken up by China, which built the organization’s $200 million headquarters
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, delivers a speech during the African Union Summit. (Peter Delarue / January 29, 2012)
By David Pierson
January 30, 2012, 12:22 a.m.
Reporting from Beijing—
In a sign of its growing dependency on Africa for resources, China pledged to provide nearly $100 million in aid for the continent only a day after 29 of its overseas workers were kidnapped by Sudanese rebels.
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, met with leaders of the African Union in Addis Ababa Sunday in a pre-scheduled summit aimed at strengthening ties with a region increasingly vital to China’s energy needs.
The meeting took place as Chinese officials were also working to free its hostages abducted Saturday in the war-torn state of South Kordofan. The Chinese workers were reportedly building a road for Sinohydro Corp., the world’s largest hydropower plant builder.
Fourteen of the workers were said to have been rescued Monday, though the whereabouts of the remaining Chinese are unknown, the Sudan News Agency reported.
Citing competition for and restrictions of buying oil from more developed parts of the world, China has increasingly turned to Africa in the past decade to help fuel its booming economy at home.
“We have always regarded assistance and support between China and Africa as mutual and have never attached political strings to our assistance to Africa,” state-run media quoted Jia saying Sunday in Ethiopia.
In return, China has provided financial aid and manpower to build infrastructure in the largely underdeveloped continent. Beijing’s hands-off approach dealing with pariah states such as Sudan has drawn sharp international criticism.
China, the world’s second largest consumer of oil, has often refused to go along with international community if resources are at stake. Beijing has shunned calls to boycott Iranian oil and remains one of the country’s last remaining customers.
China is now the top buyer of Sudanese oil and is also a major investor in Libya where it prizes the country’s “light sweet” or low-sulfur crude to make gasoline.
A report Monday in Canada’s Globe and Mail said the 54-nation African Union (which includes Sudan) would will likely forge closer ties to China since the death of Kadafi, who had been a major source of financial support.
The $95 million China pledged in aid was more than a third of the group’s $270 million annual budget, the paper reported.
Even the union’s $200 million grand headquarters, furniture and all, was financed and built by China.
Deputy Prime Minster Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with Eldoret North MP William Ruto being anointed during prayers at Ruiru Municipal Stadium on January 28, 2012. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI
By NATION TEAM email@example.com Posted Sunday, January 29 2012 at 20:39
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto have been told to carry their cross and stop blaming others for the confirmation of charges against them by the International Criminal Court.
Speaking to Nation, Kasipul Kabondo MP Oyugi Magwanga took issue with claims that the two are blaming their woes on Prime Minister Raila Odinga yet they thrice mobilised MPs to reject a bill seeking to set up a local tribunal by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara.
“Ruto and Uhuru took personal initiative to defeat the Imanyara Bill thinking the ICC wheels of Justice will drag on for years and have now changed tune when what they dearly pushed for using their financial might has turned against them”, he said.
Mr Magwanga, challenged Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to put the matter to rest by publishing a documentation of how MPs voted for the Imanyara bill instead of hoodwinking Kenyans and using criminal cases against them to settle political scores at the expense of thousands of victims of their alleged activities of violence.
Veteran politician Akech Chieng asked Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to stop shedding crocodile tears for the ordeal facing Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, yet his interest is fixed elsewhere. (READ: Uhuru, Ruto and Kalonzo vow to stay united)
Mr Chieng told Mr Musyoka to stop engaging Kenyans in intellectual dishonesty saying as a lawyer it is quite disheartening for a person of his stature (Musyoka) to be carried with euphoria and join in the bandwagon of those whose personal ambitions come first before the law.
“If Musyoka is not strategising to benefit from sympathy in Uhuru, Ruto block votes, why can’t he tell them the truth the way minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Mutula Kilonzo has been doing?” he posed. “It is all about selfish sense of greed and opportunism,” he added.
Separately, politicians have been warned to stop using the confirmation of charges as a campaign tool ahead of the General Election.
Bishop Beneah Salalah Okumu of ACK Mumias diocese said it was dangerous for supporters of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to try and exploit the issue of the ICC trials for political mileage.
Criticising two prayer meetings by the pair, he said it was embarrassing the prayers had ended up as campaign platforms where leaders blamed rivals for manipulating the ICC process to have the suspects tried at The Hague.
In Migori County, over 20 civic leaders asked Mr Kenyatta to resign from being DPM, arguing that the post was also a public office and he should wait to be cleared by the ICC.
Mr Asawo Adundo, the council chairman, said resigning from the Finance ministry but still flying the DPM flag is political hypocrisy that should never be entertained.
Photo/FILE Sheikh Ahmed Iman Ali during a past interview.
By NYAMBEGA GISESA firstname.lastname@example.org Posted Monday, January 30 2012 at 00:00
On a hot afternoon sometimes in 2007, an executive meeting at one of Nairobi’s oldest mosques, Masjid Pumwani Riyadha, was violently cut short by hundreds of youth who threw out five executive officials, accusing them of corruption and mismanagement of the mosque’s development programmes.
The leader of those rowdy youths was a slightly built man by the name Sheikh Ahmed Iman Ali, and terror organisation Al-Shabaab took note of his religious fundamentalism and appointed him the de facto leader of its Kenyan cell.
That appointment, however, was not published to the world and only became apparent recently when Ahmed called for a jihad against Kenya over the country’s incursion into Somalia.
So how did a relatively quiet boy who grew up under the watchful eyes of Imams end up in the rank and file of a global terror network?
How could a man who was accorded the best education opportunities his parents could afford (he studied at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology) turn so radically?
It is not clear when he graduated from JKUAT. His associates, however, cite 1997 or 1998 as the probable years. The university declined to divulge any information about him, saying it was under instructions not to deal with the press.
“This is a matter of national security,” an official told us. “We have orders from the anti-terrorism police unit not to share out any information about him.”
After university, Sheikh Iman worked for Shell and Mobil as an engineer, but it was his exemplary performance as a community mobiliser that attracted the attention of many in Pumwani.
The man had, in the blink of an eye, access to big money, but his followers say he never cared much about money.“All of a sudden, he was offering bursaries, waiving and subsidising fees for the sick at our clinic and taking responsibility for burying the dead,” Amina Hussein, whose son followed Sheikh Iman to Somalia, said.
He lived in a rented flat in Pumwani’s Highrise section with his wife and two children, and in the modest sitting room lay large pillows arranged against the walls in place of couches.
Whenever he had the time, he would join the local youth for a football match at a nearby dusty pitch. “He was a decidedly unimpressive striker,” recalls an official with Maratib Islamic Centre in Pumwani.
Such was his down-to-earth mien that he begged for lunch three days after he received Sh70,000 from a friend in Europe.
Instead of using the money for his upkeep, the official recalls, Sheikh Iman made a long list of those who wanted financial assistance and distributed the money to them.
A man (name withheld at his request) who was at Masjid Riyadha when Sheikh Iman overthrew the mosque’s committee says he had never seen such a violent ouster.
“We are here to build, not to destroy,” the man recalls an eloquent Sheikh Iman telling hundreds of worshippers outside the mosque after the incident.
At first glance, it seemed implausible that this athletic young preacher in those flimsily framed glasses popular with intellectuals could stage such a coup against the mosque’s respected old guard.
The mosque owns several properties in Gikomba Market, including a number of the storage facilities where market people keep their wares.
And it was the properties that ignited the violent ouster because, according to Sheikh Iman, a few corrupt officials within the management committee were pocketing the proceeds.
“Kicking out the corrupt officials was an unthinkable act,” Ustadh Muriuki Aizudin told DN2 shortly after leading prayers a week ago at Masjid Sunna Centre, popularly known as Masjid Chelsea after a nearby popular eatery. “During their tenure, they said the property raised Sh350,000 monthly in revenue, but the new team records figures of over Sh1.2 million monthly.”
‘The Revolution’, as the 2007 ouster is referred to in Pumwani, also gave rise to Sheikh Iman, who from that day assumed the title Amir, Arabic for commander.
On January 10 this year, the radical Pumwani Islamist Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) reported its blog www.mycnjiawaukweli.blogspot.com that Al-Shabaab had raised Sheikh Iman’s status to “Supreme Amir.”
They said that he was following in the footsteps of Fazul Mohammed, the former leader of Al-Qaeda’s operations in East Africa who also served as a senior leader in Al-Shabaab.
Sheikh Iman Ali founded the MYC in 2006, running under the slogan “preference for others”. Its constitution identified the group as one that provided the youth with religious counselling.
He worked towards ensuring that the community-based organisation had extensive funding, recruited and trained networks within Kenya and established connections with jihadist groups, claims a frequent worshipper at Masjid Sunna Centre.
Responding to our questions at the Chelsea eatery, some MYC members said they used to have a small office in Pumwani which was closed when Sheikh Iman went to Somalia and after frequent visits by police.
“We meet in small groups in local hotels and operate using laptops or from cybercafés, where we communicate to each other and organise our social welfare activities,” Ibn Ahmed, a member, said.
However, a UN Monitoring Group report says “in practice, members of the group openly engage in recruiting for Al-Shabaab in Kenya”, and Ahmed Iman’s success in recruiting fighters and mobilising funds for the cause appear to have earned him steady ascendancy within Al-Shabaab, the report says.
“What the UN is saying is not a claim, but a fact,” a member of the MYC said last week. Their twitter account, MYC_Press, offered an even more interesting detail. It reported: “The UN views MYC as a new alarming trend in East Africa inspired and mentored by Al-Shabaab. We also represent the next generation of terrorist threats too. True!”
One of Sheikh Iman’s friends, who thought of travelling to Somalia but was deterred when the Kenya-Somalia border was closed and soldiers deployed to prevent cross-border movement last year, agrees.
“It’s true that hundreds of youth from this area joined the Al-Shabaab. But I never heard him ask them to join (the terror group). He never recruited. He only preached, and through his moving summons, a lot of them chose to go and fight for Al-Shabaab.” Nevertheless, the man says that, although Sheikh Iman “did not recruit”, he facilitated their safe passage into Somalia and communication back home.
“It was a very secretive process. Not many people knew about it. After you agreed to join, you travelled in a group of between two and three by road to the border and then crossed into Somalia. Two weeks later, they would relay a message to Pumwani that the journey was successful.
“Amir is leading us. We call him Mujahideen. He is fighting in the way of Allah. Those killed will go straight to heaven and get rewarded with virgins,” he concluded before ushering us out of his office, located at a mosque in the Pumwani neighbourhood. It is not clear when Sheikh Ahmed was born, but many put the year at either 1973 or 1974.
His parents, a Meru man and his Kamba wife who lived near Nairobi’s California housing estate, brought him up the Muslim way, with the lad attending madrassa as is the norm in the community.
But, somehow, and despite all the preaching and mentoring he went through, the chap still managed to grow into a security headache for the republic.
His ability to attract financial support and followers from the US and Europe has baffled many. Among the terror suspects he is alleged to have recruited are Britons Natalia Faye Webb and Jermaine Grant, who were arrested in Kenya over claims of links to terrorism.
One of Sheikh Iman’s responsibilities was to oversee the construction of Pumwani Riyadha Mosque as the secretary to the planning committee.
Months after he left for Somalia, a storm ensued at the mosque over allegations that the committee had been channelling funds to terror cells.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala and Nominated MP Amina Abdallah were some of those who donated funds for construction of the mosque, and they had to come forward and explain that theirs were bona fide donations, and that there was no way they would have known that the monies would be diverted to other uses.
When the claims surfaced, the committee’s vice chairman Ali Abdulmajid and treasurer Iddi Abdallah denied links with Al-Shabaab and threatened to sue their bank, which they accused of breaching client confidentiality by exposing banking details to a third party.
The UN report says Sheikh Iman channelled funds from the mosque and MYC to Al-Shabaab. But mosque officials insist that Sheikh Iman stuck to the policies and decisions of the committee, which did not authorise funding Al-Shabaab.
It's time for the Real Housewives of Atlanta to take off for Africa! Aren't you excited?! I won't waste any time - here's how part one of the three part Africa spectacular went down:
First, we got to watch the women flying for 16 hours on a plane to Africa, filmed entirely on the ladies' cell phones. Is Bravo out of money or something? Most of what we saw on the plane was pretty typical stuff. Remember all those flights you've taken with friends, and the dumb things you talked about? Just picture that, and you're there.
Once they landed in Cape Town (which is GORGEOUS, by the way), we spent roughly ten minutes watching a process that I have no doubt took several hours - getting out of the airport with the 42,967 bags all the ladies brought between each other. NeNe was having trouble keeping her luggage on the cart, some of the ladies had problems going up the escalator, Kandi had a problem being stuck in an elevator with NeNe and Marlo, and I had a problem with having to watch the whole sad thing. Why did they waste so much time covering this? And why am I??
The women finally made it out of the airport and into the shuttle bus, and Marlo decided she was going to school the ladies on etiquette, namely, how to pass salt at a dinner table. Marlo announced that she'd be giving the ladies a tip every day, and Sheree wasn't interested in that at all ("I don't think Emily Post has a chapter in her book about aggravated assault!" YES!). You could just tell that Marlo was gonna make things interesting on this trip, for sure.
At their luxury apartment, Marlo didn't disappoint us, telling the ladies that she wanted the first bedroom, that she wanted her own bathroom, and torturing the poor concierge by saying she wanted to be contacted every time housekeeping came and left. Mind you, they were only going to be in the apartment for 36 hours. I'm surprised Marlo didn't have them install cameras in her bedroom like she's got at home. What's wrong with this woman? Meanwhile, Sheree, who was totally on her game tonight, made a joke that she, NeNe, and Phaedra would all be rooming together, and that got everybody laughing. Sheree: Every once in a while, I actually like you.
The next day, the women all gathered out on the balcony for breakfast, and that's where the groundwork was laid for the blowout between Sheree and Marlo that would come later. Here's how it started - Phaedra gave all the women (except Marlo) a lovely compact mirror with an inscription on it (something about a journey being amazing). Marlo was fake upset about not receiving one, and Phaedra said that she didn't know she'd be coming, but would be sure to get her one. Hmm...
Then Sheree announced that a male friend of hers (who happens to like boys, and this will become relevant later) was in Cape Town and had invited her to a dinner party. She invited Phaedra and Kandi and announced this to the table, before explaining that she didn't know Marlo was going to be there, OBVIOUSLY she wasn't going to invite NeNe, and she didn't want to invite Cynthia because she felt that Cynthia wouldn't leave NeNe. All valid reasons, but was it necessary for Sheree to bring this up AT THE TABLE in front of everyone?! Marlo made a face, and when she and NeNe and Cynthia headed inside to get ready for the day's activities, the conversation was all about how Sheree had thrown shade at Cynthia. But make no mistake - this was definitely not over.
Then we actually got to see Kim, which was something I wasn't sure would happen since she didn't go to Africa. Kim's basically all on her own now, with Kroy in training camp and all the ladies away, and Sweetie is apparently being no help at all, which is pissing Kim off. I have a feeling that she won't be working for Kim for much longer. Here were the main highlights of Kim's section of the episode: Ariana said that Kroy told her he's going to get Kim a diamond, and Kim's dad told her that he was happy she's with Kroy because he's the right guy for her. Some other highlights worth mentioning are the orange, Tony the Tiger highlights that Kim's dad was sporting this episode. Did he always have those?! Why?! Not a good look, Papa Kim!
Back to Africa! The ladies all went out on a yacht to see the city, and while there, a conversation was had about how everybody was going to get along with each other, initiated by none other than Marlo. Of course, she initiated it by saying that she didn't think Kandi was going to be as nice as she is, because she threw shade at her when she saw her at the mall recently. Chick, please. I didn't believe that for a minute. Then NeNe and Phaedra talked about the alleged issues they have, and Cynthia told Phaedra that she wasn't sure how to talk to her after what had happened between their husbands, but she was glad things were okay now. Oh, and Sheree and NeNe are making progress, but only kind of. Booooring!
When everyone decided to be nice to each other, Kandi had a look on her face like she didn't believe it was possible, and NeNe said that she hoped it would last. Oh, if only it were that easy, ladies.
Kandi, Phaedra and Sheree were getting ready for the dinner party that started a mess, and in the middle of Phaedra talking about how glad she was that things were out in the open, Cynthia walked in. Sheree invited her to the dinner party, and Cynthia asked if NeNe and Marlo were invited, and Sheree said no. Cynthia said she'd think about it, turned on her eight-inch heels (seriously, how high was she towering over everybody there?), and left.
Where did she go, you ask? Of course - RIGHT BACK TO NENE to tell her everything! Now, Cynthia claimed that if she knew what was about to take place after that, she never would have said anything, but I don't believe it for a minute. We all know that Marlo has a criminal past related to her temper, so telling her that she STILL wasn't invited to a party was definitely going to set her off. Boy did it ever...
Marlo marched into Sheree's room and demanded to know why she wasn't invited, and the argument that ensued was punctuated by Marlo saying to Sheree, "That's why you don't have a man, go ahead and mess with those f******!" You know what word I'm talking about, but if you don't, Kandi explained it best, "The F word that rhymes with maggots". I audibly gasped when she said that, and I couldn't believe that she went there! I don't blame Sheree for going in on her after that, but the fight ended up getting a little ridiculous.
It was hard to understand with all the yelling, but Marlo and Sheree went back and forth about how Marlo is a gold digger and Sheree can't get her money right, and NeNe stepped in the middle to play the role of peacemaker. Yes, you read that correctly. NeNe. Stepped in. To play peacemaker. It didn't work out too well, when the screen faded to black, Marlo and Sheree were still screaming at each other in weird singsong voices that sounded like a bad Disney movie being played backwards.
What did you guys think of the episode?!? Do you think Marlo and Sheree will ever make up? Will this bring NeNe and Sheree closer together? How does Cynthia look with braids? And most importantly, will Kroy EVER pop the question on Kim this season (duh, they ended up getting married, but I want to see a proposal this season)? Tell me in the comments!