Nearly 100 killed in sectarian clashes in Nigeria; 105 dead in tribal clashes in Libya; Somali pirates freed the South African couple after 20 months hostage; Africa woos Indian investors; Sudan and South Sudan resume security talks; Brazil takes South Af
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  • (JUNE 18-24)

    According to reports, at least 101 people were killed in three days of sectarian clashes and gun battles between soldiers and insurgents in two Nigerian cities of Damaturu and Kaduna after suicide bombers attacked three churches on June 17, 2012. State Police spokesman Patrick Egbuniwe confirmed that 34 of those who were killed in the clashes were members of the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram. Following the violence, the governments of the two states of Yobe and Kaduna have declared 24 hours curfew to forestall further confrontation. Meanwhile, the country's top security chiefs, including the chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Oluseyi Peturin have assured the civilians that normalcy will return to the state immediately. 1

    In another development, according to Libyan government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa, 105 people were dead and about 500 injured in recent tribal clashes in western Libya. According to Rana Jawad, the fighting was mainly between fighters from Zintan, backed by another tribe known as the Guntrara from Mizdah, and armed members of the Mashashya tribe based in Shegayga. The area includes the towns of Zintan, Mizdah and Shegayga, some 150km (90 miles) south of the capital Tripoli. The latest clashes were triggered by the death of a man from Zintan after he was stopped at a checkpoint, which Zintan militias have blamed on the Mashashya tribe. However, there had been no fighting in the mountainous area, following the deployment of the army. 2

    Meanwhile, reports noted that the two South African nationals, Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari, held hostage by the Somali pirates for 20 months, have been freed. Ms Calitz and Mr Pelizzari were kidnapped in October 2010 while they were sailing in the Indian Ocean off east Africa. Somalia's Defence Minister Hussein Arab Isse said that the Somali army and security forces had started the rescue of Calitz and Pelizzari. However, the Defence Minister did not say whether a ransom had been paid. It is to be mentioned that the pirates had originally demanded $10m (£6m) in return for the release of Ms Calitz and Mr Pelizzari. 3

    According to reports, addressing a gathering at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Susan Sikaneta, High Commissioner of the Republic of Zambia, said that African countries like Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zambia are wooing Indian investors to set up their ventures across industries including equipment, consultancy, services industry, with major focus on agriculture and food processing units. She opined that Africa is emerging as an investment hub for many Indian companies across sectors due to its friendly government polices business and investment environment and favourable climatic conditions. Later, Suresh Chitturi, Convenor, CII-AP task force on agriculture, announced that CII’s Andhra Pradesh chapter is planning to send a task force to the African subcontinent to explore investment opportunities in that region. 4

    According to reports, post-partition direct talks between Sudan and South Sudan on security issues have recommenced under the mediation of the African Union High Level Panel (AUHIP) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The talks recommenced weeks after unfruitful round of talks on how to implement agreements on security arrangements along the 2000 km of the common border. The talks on a buffer zone are deadlocked as the parties failed to endorse a map to line the demilitarised zone. 5

    Brazil has taken the first legal step at the World Trade Organisation to challenge South Africa's use of anti-dumping measures on shipments of Brazilian poultry meat. The WTO said that Brazil has "requested consultations" with South Africa over South Africa's accusation that Brazilian imports were "dumped", or sold at an unfairly low price that damaged South Africa's own poultry sales. As per the procedure, if the consultations fail to resolve the issue, in 60 days' time, Brazil could ask the WTO to set up a panel to adjudicate. The dispute is the first between Brazil and any African country and only the fourth brought against South Africa at the WTO. 6

    According to the first quarter Trade Statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics, India has overtaken the US to become Nigeria's largest market for exports. The moving of the US to the second position is seen as a major development for Nigerian and Indian trade relations, given that the US had remained the country's largest export market since 1964. The NBS data also revealed that India-Nigeria bilateral trade reached USD 5.15 billion in the first quarter or within 0.5 per cent of the US. NBS put the total value of Nigeria's exports in the first quarter of 2012 at about USD 30 billion, showing that exports to India reached USD 4.2 billion, compared to USD 3.7 billion credited to the US in the period under review. Nigeria's export to India is mostly crude oil and cashew nuts while India exports pharmaceutical goods, machinery, electronics and rice. 7

    In other developments, reports noted that Islamist Mohamed Morsy was declared Egypt's first freely elected President. Morsy defeated former general Ahmed Shafik in a run-off by a convincing 3.5 percentage points, or nearly 900,000 votes, taking 51.7 percent of the total. Later, The Muslim Brotherhood vowed to continue a struggle to take power from the generals who retain ultimate control. It is worth mentioning here that the military council, which has ruled the biggest Arab nation since the overthrow of Mubarak, has curbed the powers of the presidency, meaning the head of state will have to work closely with the army on a planned democratic constitution. 8