Ethiopia to host the July 2012 Summit of the Africa Union; Muslim Brotherhood claims victory in Egypt Presidential vote; African Union urges Sudans to accept its proposal for demilitarised zone; US unveils new partnership with Sub-Saharan Africa;
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  • (JUNE 11-17)

    According to reports, venue for the upcoming African Union summit scheduled for July 2012 has been shifted to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa after Malawi refused to allow the participation of Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Malawi said it did not want Bashir to attend the summit because he is wanted for genocide and war crimes in Darfur. Further, the ICC's chief prosecutor has called for aid cuts to countries that fail to detain the Sudanese president. However, Bashir denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated. Separately, the AU's Ferdinand Montcho accused the ICC of interfering in African affairs. 1

    Meanwhile, in a significant development, according to reports, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory for its Presidential candidate Mohamed Morsy who contested against Ahmad Shafiq in a runoff that took place in the midst of an assertion of political power by a military group, marked by the dissolution of an elected lower house of parliament and an attack on civil liberties. Later, Morsy pledged inclusivity and called for unity. During his interaction with the media, he promised “to build a democratic and modern state with a constitution". The Brotherhood claimed that Morsy had won 52.5 per cent of votes. 2

    In another development, the African Union urged Sudan and South Sudan to accept its proposal for a demilitarised zone in order to help end a dispute that threatens regional stability. Earlier, the two countries broke off talks after failing to resolve a disagreement over territory. It is to be mentioned that Sudan rejects southern claims to areas including the disputed oil-rich region of Heglig. On the other hand, South Sudan proposed the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague to help resolve the issue. 3

    According to reports, the Obama administration announced the launching of a new partnership with sub-Saharan Africa to improve democracy, economic growth, security and trade in the region. The presidential policy directive on sub-Saharan Africa, which is based on major themes outlined in Barack Obama's 2009 speech to lawmakers in Ghana, commits the United States to elevate its work to strengthen democratic institutions and boost economic growth, trade and investment in Africa. It aims to advance the African democracy by strengthening institutions for more open and accountable governance and for promoting human rights and the rule of law. It also commits the United States to increasing trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa by improving economic governance, promoting regional integration, expanding African access to global markets and encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa. 4

    Meanwhile, reacting to this development, China clarified that it held an open attitude towards discussion with the United States on cooperation with Africa. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin further added that any cooperation should respect the will of the African side, be conducive to Africa's development and be conducted on the basis of equality and reciprocity. 5

    According to Nelisiwe Magubane, Director General at the energy department, South Africa is looking to source oil from Angola, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia to replace supplies from Iran, which is facing sanctions over its nuclear programme. Africa's biggest economy used to import a quarter of its crude from Iran, but has come under Western pressure to cut the shipments as part of sanctions designed to halt Tehran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. Of late, the United States granted South Africa an exemption from financial sanctions after the cuts in Iranian imports, but Pretoria still face problems because of sanctions from the European Union, which does not provide any waivers. 6

    According to the 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI), produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Mozambique remains among the world's top 50 most peaceful nations, taking the 48th position for the second consecutive year. As per the report, Botswana is the most peaceful country in the region, taking the 31st place. Somalia is ranked the least peaceful country according to the GPI. The report sates that all regions apart from the Middle East and North Africa saw an improvement, with Sub-Saharan Africa lifting off of the bottom spot for the first time since the GPI was launched in 2007. 7

    In other developments, according to Anil Sardana, Managing Director of Tata Power Co. Ltd, India’s largest private power generator, Tata Power is exploring for coal mines and natural gas assets in Africa to ensure feedstock supplies. However, he did not elaborate on any timeline for any deal or quantum of funds earmarked for such acquisitions. The announcement came at a time when the viability of its 4,000 megawatts (MW) power project in Mundra, Gujarat, hinges on regulatory clearance for higher tariff. 8