Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Africa

Newsline: Property spat strains already frayed Kenya-Somalia relations

A Kenyan contractor has accused the Somali Embassy in Nairobi of detaining and torturing a process server who attempted to deliver court filings from an ongoing suit, further straining frayed diplomatic relations between the two countries. Amos Mutambu claims to have been stopped from leaving the Somali Embassy in Nairobi moments after he had served the consulate with court papers at their offices off Dennis Pritt road in Nairobi, on September 2. He has made the detention claims in court filings as well as in a protest letter sent on September 4 to the Kenyan Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary, Monica Juma. (https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Property-spat-strains-already-frayed-kenya-somalia-relations/4552908-5272896-g4e6b5/index.html) Mr Mutambu had been sent by HMS Advocates to deliver pleadings in a court dispute between a Kenyan contractor and the Embassy, arising from alleged renovation works carried out on an old Somali government-owned property in Nairobi.

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Newsline: China’s Ambassador to South Africa Attacks Trump Over Trade

Lin Songtian, China’s ambassador to South Africa, took out a half-page advertisement in a key local newspaper to attack the stance of the U.S. and President Donald Trump on global trade. In a paid-for editorial in Business Day, South Africa’s biggest financial newspaper, Lin said bullying by the U.S. will drive the world into a “severe recession” and accused Trump of capriciousness. “The Chinese culture emphasizes that ‘gentlemen keep their words.’ Honoring the promises and commitments is the basic ethical code and requirement for state leaders and businessmen,” he said in the advert titled ‘Voice of China.’ His comments were also published in the Star newspaper. “The president of the U.S. runs his country according to his own will, dictates the world through Twitter and changes his position overnight,” Lin said. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-10/china-s-s-africa-ambassador-says-u-s-follows-law-of-the-jungle) The column, part of a drive by Beijing to have its ambassadors speak out globally, reflects the deteriorating relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.

Newsline: Career diplomat turned Sudan’s first female foreign minister

Asma Mohamed Abdalla, a seasoned diplomat who was sacked decades ago by now ousted leader Omar al-Bashir, has become Sudan’s first female foreign minister as the country transitions to civilian rule. Born in 1946, Abdalla was sworn in on Sunday as a member of the country’s new 18-member cabinet, the first since Bashir was overthrown by the army in April. Bashir, who had seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, was deposed following months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule. Dressed in a white traditional Sudanese tobe and wearing spectacles, Abdalla took the oath as foreign affairs minister at the presidential palace along with 17 other ministers. The swearing-in ceremony was held in the presence of members of the joint civilian-military ruling sovereign council, including its chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Abdalla, whose studies were partly in the United States, was one of the first three women to join Sudan’s foreign ministry as a diplomat after graduating from Khartoum University in 1971 with a degree in economics and political science. But she was sacked in 1991 by the then administration of Bashir, who had seized power two years before in a coup. (https://news.yahoo.com/abdalla-career-diplomat-turned-sudans-first-female-foreign-101500987.html) Abdalla’s appointment is part of new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s plan to have a government made up of technocrats and one that reflects gender balance.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe deletes tweet after criticism

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe deleted a tweet praising the country’s late Prime Minister and President Robert Mugabe after users called out his controversial human rights record. Mugabe died Friday at age 95, two years after he was forced to resign after decades in power. “The United States extends its condolences to the Mugabe family and the people of Zimbabwe as they mourn the passing of former President Robert Mugabe,” the since-deleted tweet read. “We join the world in reflecting on his legacy in securing Zimbabwe’s independence.” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson called the tweet an example of the executive branch being “completely out of control.” “Apparently the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe signed off on it,” Carlson said Friday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “He should be recalled for that… This is when you know the executive branch of government is completely out of control. That it’s being run by bureaucrats who don’t care at all who was elected, who are acting out their left-wing agendas without any restraint. (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/tucker-carlson-robert-mugabe-dead-us-embassy-zimbabwe-tweet) “Because Robert Mugabe was such a bad leader that no normal person would look at him and say we need to mourn his passing,” Carlson continued.”The only words in response to his death would be ‘good riddance.'”

Newsline: South Africa closes embassy in Nigeria after xenophobic violence

South Africa has temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Nigeria following reprisal attacks by Nigerians triggered by xenophobic violence in South Africa. Between Sunday and Wednesday, mobs looted and destroyed shops, many of them foreign-owned, in South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg. Nigeria’s government has been outspoken in its condemnation of the violence. South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, called the violence an embarrassment for her country. “Our government regrets all violence against foreign-owned stores or Africans from other countries who are resident in South Africa,” she was quoted as saying by national broadcaster SABC. She ordered the closure of the country’s high commission in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and its mission in Lagos, following threats made to the diplomatic staff. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49593030) Police say the unrest has subsided and more than 420 arrests have been made.

Newsline: Morocco’s embassy in Pakistan rejects allegations on «abusing diplomatic immunity»

After it was accused of having allegedly «abused immunity», the Moroccan embassy in Islamabad issued a communiqué, refuting the allegations. «The Embassy categorically denies information», suggesting that it would have imported «26 tons of merchandise», the press release stressed. The diplomatic mission also rejected reports, saying that «the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not have authorized the import of this cargo and that it can, upon gathering the necessary data, investigate the matter». «Duty-free imports require contacting the Protocol Department of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan», which did not happen, according to the Moroccan embassy. «We have formally contacted the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify this and put an end to these allegations», the same source added. (https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/82637/morocco-s-embassy-pakistan-rejects-allegations.html) Pikistan Today reported that the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Pakistani Customs Administration, is seeking information on a significant number of tax-exempt items that the Moroccan embassy in the country has purchased. The newspaper said that the Moroccan embassy in Islamabad would have said it had not ordered nor imported such a cargo, while claiming to follow the case since the Kingdom’s ambassador himself would have demanded an investigation.

Newsline: South Sudan backtracks on embassy shutdowns, set to reopen 4

South Sudan has reversed a decision to close down some of its embassies across the world as the country’s president Salva Kiir on Friday ordered the reopening of four diplomatic missions that were closed some months ago. Kiir quashed a previous directive for the closure of some diplomatic missions and ordered the reopening of three embassies in Europe and one in Asia, information minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting. “The president informed the cabinet that he has set aside the order that was made for the closure of some embassies,” Makuie said. (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/17/c_138314799.htm) “Those embassies which were closed… another order has been issued reinstating them. These embassies are of Norway, France, Italy and Kuwait… now these embassies will continue to operate,” he added. South Sudan’s foreign ministry announced in May that it was reviewing the status of its 39 embassies and consulates across the world and close some in a bid to reduce operational costs.