AROUND AFRICA: The Hunt for Kony, First Woman AU Chief, Big China Loans (UPDATE)

July 25, 2012 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Hunting for Joseph Kony

Updates with Mali interim president returning and additional background on China in Africa

The head of the African Union force that is supposed to hunt a vicious rebel group that has terrorized Central Africa for decades says he doesn’t have enough troops, equipment or funding.

Ugandan Army Col. Dick Olum told the Associated Press recently that he doesn’t have the force yet to start the mission: hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its notorious leader, Joseph Kony. For decades Kony and thr LRA have terrorized the remote jungle areas of Uganda, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo – killing, raping and looting.

The LRA has also kidnapped hundreds of children, turning the boys into soldiers and the girls in sex slaves. Last year President Obama sent 100 special operations troops into Uganda to help track Kony, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The African Union was supposed to gather troops to track and capture Kony and his estimated 200 followers, but Olum says the money, troops and logistics just aren’t there to proceed. Currently about 2,000 Ugandan soldiers and 500 troops from South Sudan have joined the manhunt.

African Union Taps It’s First Female Head

New AU Commission chair. (AU photgraph)

For the first time, the 54-member African Union has elected a woman to serve as chairman of the AU Commission. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa’s minister for home affairs, was selected in a closely contested process July 15, garnering 37 votes.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, was the first black health minister in South Africa under Nelson Mandela. She is a former wife of the current South African President Jacob Zuma.

The commission acts as the administrative/executive branch of the AU.

China to Loan Billions

China is offering $20 billion in loans to African countries to build infrastructure, and develop agriculture, manufacturing and small-to-mid size enterprises, according to The Guardian, a British newspaper, and other publications.

Chinese President Hu Jintao made the announcement in Beijing July 19 during a gathering of African leaders for the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation. The new loan guarantees are twice what Beijing pledged in 2009.

Analysts have noted that China in recent years has moved aggressively into Africa, which has been a key source of raw materials — such as oil, metals and other minerals — for Chinese factories.  Critics –including South African President Jacob Zuma — have said China needs to better balance its trade with African nations, which totaled $166.3 billion last year. But Zuma and others note China also exports manufactured goods to Africa but is importing little beyond commodities from African nations. Chinese companies have also been involved in infrastructure projects such as highway, housing and airport improvements in Algeria. And China paid about $200 million for the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Mali Madness Continues

Mali’s interim president returned to the West African nation today (July 27) after a two-month hospital stay in Paris following an attack in his office by an angry mob. Seventy-year-old Dioncounda Traore plans to address the nation on Sunday (July 29), AFP reported.

Mali has been plunged into chaos since a March 21 military coup ousted the democratically elected president. At the same time, Tuareg fighters who had been waging an independence revolt in the northern deserts have swept over the northern half of the country, seizing control of the legendary caravan city and Islamic learning center, Timbuktu.

The 15-nation economic bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS is waiting for United Nations approval to send a peace-keeping force of 3,000 troops into troubled Mali.

 

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Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, International Crime, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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