France Urges United Nation’s Top Court To Dump Equatorial Guinea Case

France on Monday urged the UN’s top court to throw out a case brought against it in a bitter diplomatic row with oil-rich Equatorial Guinea over French accusations of top-level corruption.

“France has not accepted the jurisdiction of this court under any title whatsoever to entertain those facts on which Equatorial Guinea seeks the court to rule,” the French representative Francois Alabrune told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Malabo has accused Paris of violating the diplomatic immunity of its vice president, Teodorin Obiang, after he was prosecuted by a French court on charges of embezzling 150 million euros ($180 million) of public funds to finance his jet-set lifestyle.

Obiang, 48, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, was tried in absentia and sentenced in October to a three-year suspended sentence for corruption.

The top official from the small central African state was also given a suspended fine of 30 million euros ($35 million) for money laundering, corruption and abuse. His lawyer has said he will appeal.

But Equatorial Guinea has also lodged a complaint with the ICJ in The Hague, the UN’s top court set up to resolve disputes between countries.

Four days of hearings opened Monday, with France setting out its reasons why it believed the ICJ is not competent to hear the case.

Equatorial Guinea contends however that not only was the Vienna Convention conferring diplomatic immunity on Obiang broken, but French officials also failed to uphold the diplomatic status of a building it maintains is Malabo’s embassy in Paris.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema is Africa longest-serving president and has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1979. He extended his rule in April 2016 when he was re-elected with 93.7 percent of the vote.

He appointed his son as vice president in June 2016 — two years after the first charges were first brought in France.

In 2012, French authorities swooped on the Obiang family’s six-storey mansion on the Avenue Foch — one of the most upmarket addresses in Paris — seizing it along with a fleet of luxury cars including two Bugatti Veyrons and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Police also took away vanloads of valuables, including paintings, a $4.2-million clock and fine wines worth thousands of euros per bottle.

The UN judges in The Hague in 2016 urged France to ensure the protection of the diplomatic mission in Paris, but sidestepped Malabo’s request to order Obiang’s trial to be halted.

Relations between the two countries have furthered deteriorated after Malabo’s foreign minister, Agapito Mba Mokuy, said an attempted coup in December had been hatched on French soil, although he said the French authorities had “nothing to do with” it.



Buhari Leaves For France For One Planet Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari will participate alongside over 50 world leaders in the One Planet Summit in Paris, France on Tuesday, 12 December. He will leave for Paris on Monday and return Thursday.

The summit, jointly organised by the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the French Government in partnership with non-governmental organisations concerned about reversing the negative effects of climate change, like Bloomberg Philanthropies, holds at the eco-friendly La Seine Musicale, situated on the picturesque Seguin Island in western Paris.

The main focus of the summit, with the theme, “Climate Change Financing,” according to the organisers, will be to innovatively pool public and private finance “to support and accelerate our common efforts to fight climate change.”

While recognising that all countries are affected by the effects of climate change under “One Planet” but some are more vulnerable, the summit seeks for tangible collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Before heading for the Summit venue, the Nigerian leader will attend a lunch hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France for Heads of State and Governments at the Elysee Palace.

President Buhari and other world leaders and participants will make presentations under four sub-themes namely: Scaling-up Finance for Climate Action; Greening Finance for Sustainable Business; Accelerating Local and Regional Climate Action; and Strengthening Policies for Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

While signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 22, 2016, President Buhari had said it “demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts to reverse the effects of the negative trend.”

He followed that significant step by signing the Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on March 28, 2017 at the State House, Abuja, making Nigeria the 146th party to the Paris Treaty. It became binding on the country effective June 15, 2017, one month after the submission of the Ratification instrument to the United Nations on May 16, 2017 by Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande.

The participation of Nigeria’s delegation at the One Planet Summit will reinforce the country’s commitment to realising the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The President, who will depart for Paris on Monday, accompanied by the governors of Adamawa, Kano and Ondo States, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Environment, will return to Abuja on Thursday.

Grenade Attack Greets Macron’s First Africa Tour

A grenade which was thrown at French troops shortly before President Emmanuel Macron touched down for the start of his first Africa tour has left at least three civilians injured.

The visit was marred by an attempted attack on French troops in the capital Ouagadougou just hours before Macron’s arrival.

The French president is embarking on a three-day trip of western Africa aimed at boosting France’s regional influence, stemming the continent’s migrant exodus and bolstering the fight against violent Islamist militancy in the Sahel.

“Two hooded individuals on a motorcycle threw a grenade towards a French army vehicle” as it made its way to a barracks housing French Special Forces, a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Three residents were wounded, one seriously, in the attack which took place at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT), the source added.

“The attackers’ target was the French army vehicle, which was not hit,” the source said.

An AFP reporter at the scene of the attack witnessed a small hole in the tarmac where the grenade detonated and a damaged civilian vehicle.

Macron flew into Ouagadougou three hours later for a trip that will take in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast — two former French colonies that deposed strongmen leaders in recent years — as well as to Ghana.

His advisors say his primary message will be to stress a partnership of equals with Africa, based on education and entrepreneurship.

But regional security concerns will also dominate. European leaders are desperate to find ways to stem the flow of African migrants across the Mediterranean without leaving them to the mercy of traffickers in transit countries like Libya, where they face torture, rape, and — as a CNN report showed recently — being sold into slavery.

And Macron will also be seeking international backing for a new, five-nation African counter-terrorism force, which France hopes to see eventually take over the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel region.


FG Uncovers IPOB’s Slush Account In Paris

The federal government has located a slush account in Paris to which some Nigerians have made huge deposits in support of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

It was learnt that the French government promised to take action as soon as the IPOB’s slush account was known to it.

A top security source, Sahara Reporters report spoke in confidence, said: “Intelligence gathering has led to the discovery of an account in Paris into which some Nigerians in the Diaspora remit funds to support IPOB.”

“From the said account, funds were being drawn for the activities of IPOB at home and abroad. The relevant security agencies did a thorough job and provided incontrovertible evidence on the basis of which the government proscribed the terrorist organisation.”

“These Nigerians in the Diaspora are using France as a clearing house.”

“Investigations also confirmed inflows into the account from Holland, Hungary, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Turkey, Singapore and other parts of Europe.”

“In fact, a football tournament was recently organised in Senegal to raise funds for IPOB.”

“As a matter of fact, the account is being used to get money from a lot of people in the Diaspora.”

“What many Nigerians did not know is that the Minister of Information and Culture was talking on the basis of a credible intelligence report.”

“With cooperation by the international community, especially relevant countries, we will soon get the list of all the people remitting funds into the account in Paris.”

“IPOB members are becoming desperate in the last 72 hours. About two days ago, some members of the terrorist group breezed into our Embassy in Hong Kong under the pretence of renewing their passports but ended up staging a protest.”

“The IPOB members also demonstrated at our embassy in Spain a few days ago.”

France Moves To Unite Libya

France will host talks on Tuesday between Fayez al-Serraj, head of Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli, and Khalifa Haftar, a powerful military commander in the divided country’s east who has so far rejected his authority.

According to a statement, during the talks, President Emmanuel Macron aims to show France’s support for UN-backed efforts to stabilise the country.

“The talks would be based on the involvement of all the different factions in Libya,” Macron’s office said.

Haftar and Seraj held talks in Abu Dhabi in May, their first in more than a year and a half, about a UN-mediated deal that Western powers hope will end the factional fighting that has dominated Libya since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Citing unidentified sources, Saudi-owned al-Hayat said the meeting sought to build on diplomatic efforts by the United Arab Emirates, the UN and neighbouring Egypt.

Macron said on July 13 there would be concrete diplomatic initiatives on resolving the conflict soon.

He wants France to play a bigger role in coaxing Libya’s factions to end the turmoil that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government.

The meeting comes at a time when Haftar has gained ground militarily with Egyptian and United Arab Emirates support, and Western states say Haftar must be part of any solution to the conflict in the oil-producing North African state.

French officials fear Islamic State militants, who were driven from the coastal city of Sirte in 2016, and other jihadists could try to exploit the power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing substantial ground in Syria and Iraq, and see this a window to push the sides closer together.

The UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord has sat in Tripoli for more than a year but has struggled to reach an agreement with eastern factions, including Haftar.

Libya’s neighbours and regional powers have often differed on how to help.

Egypt and the UAE are closer to Haftar and his anti-Islamist militant campaign while Seraj is loosely supported by militias in the west of the vast country that include Islamist groups backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Paris sees its close ties with the leaders of the UAE and Egypt as giving it some leeway in getting all sides on board, especially with the United States showing little interest in getting involved.

Diplomats said a rough plan could see Paris working to refine the UN accord by setting up a presidential council that would include Haftar, Seraj and a third actor from the east with Haftar heading up the Libyan National Army.

This would then be rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council and pave the way for national elections.

Officials in Haftar’s Libyan National Army and Seraj’s government did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

France’s foreign ministry and Macron’s office said they had no information on the subject.

President Macron Names Cabinet Three Days After Inauguration

Newly inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron of France on Wednesday constituted his government, with close supporters taking key ministries but a centre-right politician appointed as economy minister.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, who served as defence minister under Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande, was named minister for Europe and foreign affairs under Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

Gerard Collomb, the socialist mayor of Lyon, takes on the key portfolio of interior minister, responsible for internal security as France remains under a state of emergency after deadly terrorist attacks over the past two years.

The Economy Ministry goes to Bruno Le Maire, a former economy minister who like Philippe comes from the centre-right Les Republicains party.

The president’s loyalist Sylvie Goulard, a liberal member of the European Parliament, was appointed minister of the armies, responsible for defence.

Francois Bayrou, head of the centrist Democratic Movement who rallied to Macron during the first round of the presidential election, was appointed justice minister.

Elysee Palace secretary general Alexis Kohler concluded the announcement by saying that Macron would hold his first government meeting on Thursday.

The meeting normally takes place on Wednesday but Macron and Philippe put back the ministerial appointments by a day, saying they wished to have extra ethics and tax compliance checks carried out on the prospective ministers first.


Macron Takes Office as French President

Emmanuel Macron becomes France’s youngest ever president on Sunday, taking over from Socialist Francois Hollande in a solemn ceremony.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, arrived at the Elysee Palace in central Paris in a motorcade and walked down the red carpet under light rain to be greeted by Hollande for his inauguration.

The new president’s wife Brigitte, a 64-year-old who was his high school drama teacher, arrived separately for the ceremony wearing a light blue Louis Vuitton outfit.

A week after his victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a tumultuous election, Macron will have a private meeting with Hollande at which he will be given the codes to launch France’s nuclear weapons.
He will then attend a ceremony in front of hundreds of politicians and invited guests at which the official election results will be read out.

At the end of the formalities, a 21-gun salute is to ring out from the Invalides military hospital on the other side of the River Seine.

Macron will then be driven to the Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

The new president faces a host of daunting challenges including tackling stubbornly high unemployment, fighting Islamist-inspired violence and uniting a deeply divided country.

Socialist Hollande’s five years in power were plagued by a sluggish economy and bloody terror attacks that killed more than 230 people and he leaves office after a single term.

The 64-year-old launched Macron’s political career, plucking him from the world of investment banking to be an advisor and then his economy minister.

“I am not handing over power to a political opponent, it’s far simpler,” Hollande said on Thursday.

Security was tight with around 1,500 police officers deployed near the presidential palace and the nearby Champs Elysees avenue and surrounding roads were blocked off.

After a formal lunch, Macron will visit Paris’s town hall, a traditional stop for any new French president in his “host” city.

– PM named, then Berlin –

Macron’s first week will be busy. On Monday, he is expected to reveal the closely-guarded name of his prime minister, before flying to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It is virtually a rite of passage for French leaders to make their first European trip to meet the leader of the other half of the so-called “motor” of the EU.

Pro-EU Macron wants to push for closer cooperation to help the bloc overcome the imminent departure of Britain, another of its most powerful members.

He intends to press for the creation of a parliament and budget for the eurozone.


What Macron’s Election Means for Africa By Ernest Danjuma Enebi

On Sunday, May 7th France did what majority of the European Union and progressive world had hoped for – they elected 39-year old former Economy Minister, En Marche! candidate, Emmanuel Macron. The run-off election which once again pitted globalism against nationalism; a match-up which had recently seen the UK vote to leave the European Union and the US elect Donald Trump, ended up offering none of the drama it was hyped to, as Macron staved off a last-minute Russian hack to obliterate his controversial populist opponent, Marine LePen of the Front National party, by about 30 percentage points to become the President Elect of France. The result was greeted in Nigeria and across the African continent – much of which still deals heavily with the old colonists, with relief and excitement. While Emmanuel Macrons brief political record offers us little clues on how his administration will deal with the historically testy France, Africa relations, his campaign manifesto, public speeches and comments provide an insight into how he might govern. From Immigration and security, to trade and infrastructure, here’s what the Macron presidency will mean for Africans and Africa.

On Immigration – In what was perhaps the most polarizing issue of the campaign; Marine Le Pen propagated an anti immigration agenda, pledging to halt immigration into France, saying, “We have millions of unemployed and cannot afford any more immigration. Where are they supposed to live? It is not viable.” A view that was similar to President Trumps during the US elections and one propagated by pro-Brexit MP, Nigel Farage, in the UK. Emmanuel Macron offered a starkly contrasting message, committing to maintain the Europe’s pledge to offer asylum to those who seek its protection and to help address the underlying causes of migration — underdevelopment, famines, climatic disorders.

However, he stopped short of an open French border, saying, “The European Union cannot accept on its soil all those who are in search of a better life. In this context, France must take its fair share in the reception of refugees.” While Macrons stance on immigration seems less drastic and more convivial, it offers little change from the status quo, which has sat idly as African migrants are increasingly subject to racial profiling.

On Security – As a founding member of the NATO alliance, France plays a key role in security on the African continent as it maintains military bases in its old colonies. It led the military intervention that toppled Colonel Gadhafi in Libya, and has led or supported counterterrorism operations in Mali, Chad, Cote d’ivoire, Northeast Nigeria and the Central African Republic among others. While Le Pen committed to maintaining an active foreign policy with African countries, she was against interference in local conflicts. Macron on the other hand promised to increase Frances contribution to NATO to fulfill its 2% GDP obligation by 2025. He also vowed to review France’s military bases on the continent and expressed his desire to help build defence capabilities of African nations, so they can be self-reliant.
On Trade – Throughout the campaign, Macron was very supportive of the European Unions trade policies, so it is assumed he will preserve The Economic Partnership Agreement; which is the bedrock of trade between the EU and Africa, fostering partnership between the two regions on Economic and trade cooperation among other things. This stance will most likely mean the continuation of policies, which have starved the continent into submission through tariff hikes, flooding the market with EU produce and restrictions on genetically modified crops.

On Aid and Development – In the ranking compiled by Action Contre La Faim, a development organization that ranked the candidates’ policies on global development, Macron ranked “Tres Bien”. By contrast, Le Pen was unranked because they worried that some of her proposed policies would likely violate international law. According to his spokesperson Jean-Michel Severino, Macrons priorities are on education, health, women’s rights, employment and the development of the private sector in developing countries in sub Saharan Africa understandably with a preference for the francophone countries.

During the campaign, Macron has called for aid to be spent in the poorest countries and on the poorest and most vulnerable people in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no child behind. Thanks to Macron’s victory, we likely won’t see Le Pen’s proposed policy that tied aid to the repatriation of migrants or and a preference for countries that patronized French exports. Macron has committed to increase Frances foreign aid budget to 0.7% of its gross national income by 2030.

While the election of Emmanuel Macron is a much needed reprieve from the demoralizing losses of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trumps victory in the US elections, it offers little hope for positive change as Macrons victory was fueled more by fear of the fringe policies of Marine Le Pen, than any discernible enthusiasm for him. His policies as outlined above suggest a continuation of the status quo. The silver lining is that as a 39-year old, who already acknowledged France’s crimes against humanity in the 1962 Algerian Independence War, he doesn’t appear to carry the baggage of imperialism and will hopefully be honest about France’s destabilizing role on the continent and most importantly, work to stem it.
In a similar piece I wrote in the aftermath of the US elections and its significance for Africa, I called for Africans to come together and strengthen our infrastructure, increase trade with one another, bolster our regional security forces and alliances, and ease immigration within the continent, as a means of limiting our exposure when there’s political uncertainty in the west. Although France did the right thing on this occasion, there is no doubt the nationalist voices in the west are growing and becoming more powerful and so now more than ever, we need to heed the call to reduce our dependence on foreign countries and become more self reliant.

Osinbajo to Macron: Let’s Strengthen Bonds

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has called for the strengthening of Nigeria-France relations in a congratulatory letter to President-elect, Emmanuel Macron.

Nigeria’s acting leader said he received the news of the election of the 39-year old Macron with satisfaction, noting that under successive governments, the relations between Nigeria and France had blossomed.

Osinbajo expressed the optimism that the incoming government will further strengthen the bond of friendship between both countries.

Under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Acting President, there has been a very close collaboration between Nigeria and France in the war against terror and he commended the role played by France in the successes so far recorded in the implementation of the regional initiative against terrorism.

Prof Osinbajo observed that Macron’s election is a source of inspiration especially for the French people and portends a greater future in which the French Republic will continue to play its active role boosting relations with Europe, Africa and the rest of the world.

The Acting President then noted that the Buhari administration is looking forward to working closely with President-elect Macron to promote international cooperation, advance peace and security, consolidate mutual trade relations and strengthen economic partnership for the benefit of citizens of both countries.


Over 150 People Arrested After France Post-Election Trouble

The Police today has said a hundred and forty-one people were arrested in Paris after trouble flared overnight following Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France’s presidential election. According to the authorities, those detained in Menilmontant, a north-eastern district of Paris, were accused of offenses ranging from throwing missiles at the police to damaging property.


The demonstrators were protesting both against Macron – criticized by many on France’s far left as a member of a discredited elite in thrall to global capitalism – and against his defeated far-right nationalist rival, Marine Le Pen.

Macron beat Le Pen by 66 percent to 34 on a platform of market-friendly reform and closer European integration.

However, an abstention rate of over 25 percent, and the fact that more than 11 percent of those who turned out chose neither candidate pointed to a high degree of disillusionment with the choices on offer in the runoff.

The hardline leftist CGT labor union planned a demonstration in the capital later in the day against the kind of liberal economic policies that Macron espouses

Nigeria to Work With France to Deradicalize Islamist Militants

Nigeria and France will collaborate to deradicalize Islamist groups active in the country and across West Africa, the Nigerian presidency said.

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and French Prime Minister Bernarde Cazeneuve held bilateral talks in Paris Friday where they discussed issues fueling Islamist radicalism and steps necessary to curb it, Osinbajo’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

“One thing left for us to deal with is deradicalization, defeating the ideology behind the mindless killing and violence,” Osinbajo said in the statement.

Boko Haram Islamist militants have waged a violent campaign, in which tens of thousands of people have died, since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic rule in Africa’s most populous country of more than 180 million.