Germany’s Olaf Scholz met with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to discuss the situation in Israel and Gaza; Niger junta says Mohamed Bazoum tried to escape from custody; Italy to take in 4,000 Tunisian workers as part of a deal to cope with the influx of migrants; China to increase investments in Nigeria’s power generation and digital economy, and others
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Israel and Gaza, where a terror attack by Hamas killed 12 people earlier this month. Scholz expressed his support for Egypt’s role as a mediator in the conflict and called for opening a humanitarian corridor to Gaza as soon as possible. El-Sisi said that Egypt did not close the Rafah border crossing, which has been blocked by Israeli forces. Scholz also visited Israel before his trip to Egypt to show solidarity with the country. In a similar development, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also met the leaders of Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in Cairo on Friday, agreeing with them on the need to let humanitarian aid into Gaza and avoid civilian casualties in Israel’s war with Hamas. Sunak met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as part of a diplomatic tour of the Middle East.
As a follow-up to our earlier report, Egyptian trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza entered the Rafah border crossing on Saturday, the first time since the war between Israel and Hamas started on October 7. The aid, which includes supplies from various UN agencies, is a lifeline for the besieged Palestinian enclave, where Israel has cut off water, electricity, fuel, and food. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the Egyptian side of the crossing on Friday and said the trucks are “the difference between life and death for so many people in Gaza.”
In other news, ousted Niger president Mohamed Bazoum tried to escape from military custody on Thursday night with his family and aides but was caught and arrested by the regime’s spokesman, Amadou Abdramane. Bazoum had planned to fly out on helicopters belonging to a foreign power after reaching a hideout near Niamey. Bazoum, who was overthrown by the military on July 26, had filed a legal case with a regional court and the UN Human Rights Council against his captors. The escape attempt coincided with the arrival of French troops in Chad after Niger’s military rulers ordered them out.
On a different note, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met with China’s Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on Monday to discuss bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Li said China was ready to support Ethiopia in maintaining stability and development and to expand economic and trade ties. Ahmed praised China as Ethiopia’s most reliable partner and friend and expressed his willingness to participate in the BRI and deepen cooperation in various fields. The two leaders also witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements.
Italy has agreed to take in some 4,000 Tunisian workers as part of a deal to help the North African country cope with the influx of migrants from other regions. The deal, signed during a visit by Italy’s foreign minister to Tunis on Friday, also aims to strengthen cooperation on security and development issues. Tunisia is the main source of migrants arriving in Italy by sea this year, and Italy has urged the EU to support its efforts to stop the smugglers. Tunisia’s president was invited to a migration conference in Rome in July.
China’s President Xi Jinping on Thursday promised to increase China’s investments in Nigeria’s power generation and digital economy, following a Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing. Nigeria’s vice president, Kashim Shettima, witnessed the signing of contracts worth $2 billion for various projects, including vehicle assembly, solar products, drone technology, and an industrial park. Nigeria also secured $4 billion worth of letters of intent for new projects and investments. China also agreed to build the Lekki Blue Seaport in Lagos, a major port project that Nigeria has been seeking for years.
In a surprising turn of events, Liberia’s presidential election this week heads for a second round as none of the candidates secured more than 50% of the votes in the Oct. 10 poll. President George Weah and opposition leader Joseph Boakai were in a tight race, with Weah leading by a narrow margin of 0.4%. The run-off is expected to take place in November after a re-cast of ballots in two polling places in Nimba County due to irregularities. The election is seen as a crucial test for Liberia’s democracy, as it marks the first peaceful transfer of power since the end of a civil war in 2003.
In a separate incident, the U.N. envoy for Libya said on Monday that the country’s electoral commission cannot start preparing for national elections until the issue of forming a new government is resolved. He also said the new electoral laws issued by the speaker of the eastern-based parliament have some technical improvements but also some political problems that could undermine the legitimacy of the vote. Libya has been divided and unstable since a 2011 uprising and a 2020 ceasefire. A U.N.-backed interim government was installed in 2021, but it was not recognised by the parliament.
On the other hand, the DRC electoral commission released a list of 24 candidates for the December 20 presidential elections on Friday. The incumbent president, Félix Tshisekedi, faces a strong challenge from the opposition, which includes Nobel laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege and former governor Moïse Katumbi. The opposition is divided and may need to unite behind a single candidate to win. The elections will also include legislative, provincial, and communal polls. The political situation is tense, and many fear fraud and violence.
The African Football League, a new tournament featuring eight of the best clubs on the continent, kicked off on Friday in Tanzania with a thrilling 2-2 draw between Simba Sports Club and Al Ahly. The match was attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and a sold-out crowd of 60,000 fans, mostly supporting the home team. The league aims to improve the quality and revenue of African soccer.