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United States Africa Command

Public Affairs Office


21 April 2010

USAFRICOM - related news stories

TOP NEWS RELATED TO U.S. AFRICA COMMAND AND AFRICA

U.S. helps African navies with floating academy (Reuters)


ABOARD USS GUNSTON HALL – The floating academy is part of an effort by the U.S.
military to train local navies and coast guards to combat rising instability in the Gulf of
Guinea -- an increasingly important source of oil and other raw materials for western
markets which has drawn huge international investment.

Another Top U.S. Official Visits (This Day)


Barely a week after Acting President Goodluck Jonathan ended his four-day visit to
United States on the invitation of President Barack Obama, a top US official, William J.
Burns, who is the Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, is expected in Nigeria to
follow up on the recently launched Nigeria-US Binational Commission.

US triggers criticism from Sudan, human rights groups (AFP)


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's administration has drawn fire from both
Sudan's Arab-led government and US activists with its qualified criticism of the first
multi-party elections there in 24 years.

Are pirate ransoms legal? Confusion over US order (Associated Press)


NAIROBI, Kenya - Shipping companies with U.S. interests don't know if they are
allowed to pay ransoms to Somali pirates anymore after President Obama declared
them an "extraordinary threat," even as pirates extended their reach farther than ever
toward Asia, hijacking three Thai vessels, officials said Tuesday.

US aid to tender 300 million dollar Mozambique projects (AFP)


MAPUTO, Mozambique – A US aid programme will launch late this year four tenders
worth over 300 million dollars to rebuild roads and improve water and sanitation in
Mozambique, local media reported on Tuesday.

China Donates $1.5 Million to Boost Mauritania's Defense (Voice of America)


China is giving Mauritania a $1.5 million donation to boost its defense capability. News
reports from the region say Mauritania's Defense Minister Hamadi Ould Hamadi and
the Chinese ambassador to Nouakchott, Zhang Xun, signed a memorandum for the
donation Monday.

Military Personnel Five Times More Vulnerable to HIV (The Arusha Times)
ARUSHA, Tanzania — Over 60 militaries from 70 countries around the globe gathered
in Arusha from April 12-16 setting strategies to combat HIV infections affecting armies.

UN News Service Africa Briefs


Full Articles on UN Website
UN humanitarian chief to visit Senegal, Niger and DR Congo
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UPCOMING EVENTS OF INTEREST:

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday, April 22; Washington, D.C.


WHAT: U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Africa Business Initiative Discussion on emerging
opportunities for trade and business investment with commissioners of the African Union
WHO: United States Ambassador to the African Union, Michael Battle; Jean Ping, Chairman of
the African Union Commission; Scott Eisner, Executive Director of the Africa Business
Initiative at USCC: Greg Lebedev, Chairman of CIPE and Senior Adviser to the President of
USCC; Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairman at the African Union Commission; Assistant U.S.
Trade Representative for Africa Florie Lisner; and Bill Clontz, Vice President of MPRI.
Info: http://fpc.state.gov/events/124193.htm

WHEN/WHERE: Friday, April 23; 12:00 p.m.; Washington, D.C.


WHAT: Center for Global Development and The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies: In Defense of Competition: The Industrial Organization of Rebellion: The
Logic of Forced Labor and Child Soldiering
WHO: Christopher Blattman, Yale University; James Habyarimana, Georgetown University
Info: http://www.cgdev.org/content/calendar/detail/1424065/

WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday through Thursday, April 27-29; Washington, D.C.


WHAT: Corporate Council on Africa: U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference
WHO: Top U.S. and African government officials, seasoned business executives, sector experts
and financiers convene at the U.S. Africa Infrastructure Conference.
Info: http://www.africacncl.org/(xtahp03q0g1wdb55d42z1w55)/Default.aspx

WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, April 28; Washington, D.C.


WHAT: U.S. Institute of Peace: U.S.-Relations with the Muslim World
WHO: This event will examine U.S. relations with the Muslim world one year after President
Obama's pivotal speech at Cairo University. Speakers include Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan,
Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, and U.S. Special Envoy to the
Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain. USIP specialists Abiodun Williams,
Daniel Brumberg and Mona Yacoubian will also participate in the event.
Info: http://www.usip.org/events/us-relations-the-muslim-world-one-year-after-cairo
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FULL ARTICLE TEXT

U.S. helps African navies with floating academy (Reuters)

ABOARD USS GUNSTON HALL - Men in blue overalls haul on the ropes alongside
American crewmen sporting hardhats shaped as Stetsons and decorated in the stars and
stripes.

"Pull harder! Coil the ropes!" one of the Americans barks at the "ship riders," a term
used for the West African sailors aboard the U.S. amphibious landing vessel as she slips
her moorings in the port of Dakar.

This is a floating academy, part of an effort by the U.S. military to train local navies and
coast guards to combat rising instability in the Gulf of Guinea -- an increasingly
important source of oil and other raw materials for western markets which has drawn
huge international investment.

The United States says the destabilizing effects of piracy, drug smuggling, and illegal
fishing in the area are also costing West and Central African coastal economies billions
of dollars each year in lost revenues.

"You have an area that is traditionally a landward-focused region which is awakening


to the impact of the maritime domain," said Captain Cindy Thebaud, commander of the
U.S. Navy's Destroyer Squadron Six Zero and head of the project.

After two weeks of training in Senegal, the African officers and deckhands will spend a
week at sea on the USS Gunstall Hall alongside their U.S. counterparts learning skills
ranging from basic navigation to anti-piracy techniques.

The training is part of U.S. efforts to make Gulf of Guinea maritime security more
robust but, with navies often coming low in the pecking order in African militaries,
there is a need for increased investment in boats and other equipment.

"There are challenges with resource allocations everywhere in the region," Thebaud
said. "But the education and the visibility is continuing to increase and, bit by bit, we
are seeing increases in allocations in resources."

THREATS HUGE, IGNORED

The Gulf of Guinea, which runs down from West Africa through Nigeria and Angola, is
becoming increasingly important due to its vast potential energy reserves.
Ghana will soon join traditional Gulf of Guinea oil producers Nigeria, Angola, Gabon,
Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, while Liberia and Sierra Leone have also made
offshore energy finds.

Critics say U.S. policy is purely in self-interest, as the world's top consumer will rely on
the region for a quarter of its oil supplies within the next five years.

But sailors said countries in the region were keen on the project as they understood the
threat insecurity posed to governance and economic growth.

"(Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea) is not the same level as Somalia but it could have the
same consequences," said Lt Commander Emmanuel Bell Bell, a Cameroonian officer
onboard.

Earlier this month Cameroon partly blamed piracy for a 13 percent fall in oil production
last year.

"In Cameroon we have shipping and oil. The slightest act of piracy creates an
atmosphere of fear. It could lead to things shutting down," Bell Bell added.

The training is part of Africom, the U.S. command center for Africa, but European
nations have begun to take part in an effort to broaden the programme and cooperation.

Commander David Salisbury, a British naval officer, said a thwarted hijacking of a ship
off Benin and a Ghanaian raid on a fishing vessel in December were evidence of
improvements. But he warned that threats were "huge and had been largely ignored"
and "we should talk about progress in decades."

"GRANDPA ZODIACS"

The size and power of the USS Gunston Hall -- a heavily armed ship that can deploy
smaller landing vessels, machine gun-mounted speedboats and hundreds of soldiers --
is far cry from the kit most of the sailors onboard are used to.

"We are working with grandpa zodiacs with 42 horse power motors," said Blawah
Charles of Liberia's newly established Coast Guard.

Some navies in the region are so limited in boats and fuel that their patrols cannot
venture far out to sea and pose little threat to illegal fishing vessels or smugglers.

Instability in the Gulf of Guinea has also attracted the interests of private military
contractors.
U.S. private security company MPRI, a division of L-3, earlier this year announced it
had won a multi-year contract worth $250 million improve maritime security for
Equatorial Guinea.

Some fear this pointed to increased competition and the potential for military
confrontation. But Thebaud said private military companies' involvement would be
"complementary."
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Another Top U.S. Official Visits (This Day)

Barely a week after Acting President Goodluck Jonathan ended his four-day visit to
United States on the invitation of President Barack Obama, a top US official, William J.
Burns, who is the Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, is expected in Nigeria to
follow up on the recently launched Nigeria-US Binational Commission.

Announcing Burns' visit yesterday, the Department of State said the top US official
would meet with Acting President Jonathan and Foreign Affairs Minister, Odein
Ajumogobia, "to follow through on mutual commitments made in the recently launched
US-Nigeria Binational Commission".

The Binational Commission, which was signed on behalf of Nigeria by Secretary to the
Federal Government, Alhaji Ahmed Yayale, and Secretary of State, Senator Hillary
Clinton, on behalf of US, has four working groups to address specific bilateral issues.
This include: Good Governance, Transparency, and Integrity; Energy and Investment;
Food Security and Agriculture; and, Niger Delta and Regional Security Cooperation.

But the two countries had resolved that the Good Governance, Transpa-rency, and
Integrity working group would be launched first, because of the preparations and
reforms necessary to ensure that 2011 elections are free, fair, and transparent.

Ensuring a credible general election next was one of the highlights of Acting President
Jonathan's visit to US last week where he met with President Obama at the White
House in Wahsington DC and also held meetings with various influential and strategic
bodies like the Atlantic Council, Corporate Council on Afric.a, Council on Foreign
Relations and Center for Global Development. During his visit, Jonathan also met with
the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and the Black Caucus of the US
Congress where he stated his commitment to conducting credible polls in 2011.

Apart from Nigeria, Under Secretary Burns would also be visitng six other African
countries in a tour the US government said is meant "to expand relations with key
African partners in the areas of democracy, sustainable economic development, health
and education, and peace and security."
The other countries on Burns itinerary are Senegal, Liberia, Angola, South Africa,
Namibia and Cape Verde. During the tour which began yesterday and ends on April 25,
Burns would hold meetings with President Abdoulaye Wade and other senior
Senegalese officials to discuss democratic reforms and close cooperation on
counternarcotics and counter-terrorism. In Liberia, he is billed to meet President Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf and Liberian political opposition figures on continuing Liberian efforts
to build political and economic stability. While in Angola, he would hold consultations
with cabinet officials to advance the US-Angola Strategic Partnership Dialogue on
energy, security, and other issues of mutual interest.

In South Africa, the US top offiicial would discuss with senior officials on the path
forward for the recently launched US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue. A meeting had
been slated between him and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and other
senior officials on the successes and challenges in fighting HIV/AIDs, promoting
democracy, and building prosperity through the Millennium Challenge Corporation
(MCC) Compact program. Burns would conclude his trip in Cape Verde, where he
would meet with Defense Minister Cristina Fontes and Foreign Minister Jose Brito.
--------------------
US triggers criticism from Sudan, human rights groups (AFP)

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's administration has drawn fire from both
Sudan's Arab-led government and US activists with its qualified criticism of the first
multi-party elections there in 24 years.

Though it was discreet during Sudan's election campaign, the Obama administration is
now pointing out weaknesses in the way the poll was conducted while reaffirming its
faith in the overall electoral process.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement that the April 11-15 elections
"were an essential step in a process laid out by Sudan?s Comprehensive Peace
Agreement," the 2005 pact which ended decades of civil war.

"The United States notes the initial assessment of independent electoral observers that
Sudan?s elections did not meet international standards," he said.

"Political rights and freedoms were circumscribed throughout the electoral process,
there were reports of intimidation and threats of violence in south Sudan.

"Ongoing conflict in (the western region of) Darfur did not permit an environment
conducive to acceptable elections, and inadequacies in technical preparations for the
vote resulted in serious irregularities," Gibbs added.
"The United States regrets that Sudan?s National Elections Commission did not do
more to prevent and address such problems prior to voting."

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley also criticized the polls while calling them
a "very important step" in implementing the CPA as it bolstered state governorships
and assemblies that will oversee upcoming referenda.

Under the CPA, the Sudanese are set to hold a referendum in January on whether the
mainly Christian and animists in the south will remain part of Sudan, which is
dominated by the majority Arabs and Muslims in the north.

They are also set to hold a referendum next year on the status of the contested oil-rich
region of Abyei.

He expressed less concern with the wide expectation that Omar al-Beshir -- who faces
an international warrant for arrest on charges of war crimes in the Darfur -- is likely to
win yet another term as president.

Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said the United States would
continue to work with the central government in the north and the semi-autonomous
government in the south.

In Khartoum, Beshir's ruling National Congress Party rejected the US accusations that
the landmark polls were not free and fair, but welcomed the offer for cooperation.

In Washington, the Save Darfur Coalition, a group defending the rights of the people in
Sudan's western conflict-torn region of Darfur, criticized the Obama administration for
being too soft on Khartoum.

"We were pleased to see that they (the Department of State) were honest in their
assessment," Robert Lawrence, Save Darfur's political director, said after the United
States had taken a low profile during the campaign.

While the group understood the need for Washington to play the role of "honest broker"
and promote "dialogue between all parties," it is bothered that Washington "doesn't
really assign responsibilities to the problems," he said.

"We would like to see a more balanced engagement policy that takes into account the
fact that the NCP has broken so many promises over the years."

Enough Project, another group that observes Sudan closely, late Monday posted a video
on YouTube showing alleged ballot stuffing at a Sudanese voting booth.
John Prendergast, a co-founder of Enough, said the Obama administration, in validating
an electoral process while also recognizing major shortcomings, "believes it is simply
moving the ball forward in pragmatic fashion inexorably toward the referendum.

"Rather, the administration is sending yet another signal to the Sudanese parties that
there will be no repercussions for significant violations of the North-South peace deal,"
he said in an email exchange with AFP.

"This puts at greater risk the necessary preparations for the referendum, the
implementation of the remaining elements of the North-South peace deal, and the
possibility of successful negotiations in Darfur."

"The stakes continue to get higher, and the administration's bar for moving forward
continues to get lower," Prendergast added.
--------------------
Are pirate ransoms legal? Confusion over US order (Associated Press)

NAIROBI, Kenya - Shipping companies with U.S. interests don't know if they are
allowed to pay ransoms to Somali pirates anymore after President Obama declared
them an "extraordinary threat," even as pirates extended their reach farther than ever
toward Asia, hijacking three Thai vessels, officials said Tuesday.

A total of 77 crew members were taken Sunday in the hijackings 1,200 miles (1,900
kilometers) east of Somalia in the Indian Ocean — the farthest from the Somali coast
pirates have ever attacked, the EU Naval Force said. Pirates now hold 14 vessels and
305 hostages, the International Maritime Bureau said.

Pirate attacks have risen over the last year despite increased patrols by U.S. and
European warships, in part because the multimillion dollar ransoms keep rising.

The shipping industry has long seen ransom payments to retrieve hijacked vessels,
cargos and crews as a cost of doing business. But after Obama last week issued an
executive order on Somalia, shipping officials say it's no longer clear whether
companies with U.S. interests can legally pay ransoms. The industry is worried because
ransoms have been the only way to quickly and safely free hostages.

"It's confusion, is the way you could sum it up," said David Osler, a writer at the
shipping news journal Lloyd's List. "Industry sources believe the executive order is
worded poorly ... it's not immediately clear to everybody what is being said here."

Obama's order outlaws anyone from supplying financing to any Somalis involved in
military activities.
Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the British think tank Chatham House, said: "I think
the shipping industry would like to be told whether or not they would potentially face
prosecution."

For some, the order's ramifications are clear.

Because it's not clear where the million-dollar ransoms wind up, paying them now
would be illegal, insisted Doug Burnett, a maritime expert in the law firm Squire,
Sanders and Dempsey.

"You would be very hard-pressed, if you were just looking at the document, to say that
paying ransom to pirates would not be a violation of the executive order," Burnett said,
adding that ransom payments go to clans in Somalia and add to the country's
lawlessness.

The U.S. Treasury Department, though, indicated it is not interested in prosecuting


anyone trying to free hostages.

"We are targeting only those individuals and entities that freely choose to support acts
of piracy or armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, including through the supply
of weapons, financing, communication devices, or small boats and other equipment,"
Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Department of
Treasury, told The Associated Press.

Still, a Treasury Department spokesperson, who was not authorized to speak publicly
in line with department policy, said it is possible that if a ransom payment ends up in
the hands of one of 11 individuals listed by the U.S. government along with Obama's
order, the Department of Justice could become involved.

The shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk Group said it is examining the impact of the
order. A company spokeswoman, Marie-Louise Moller, said its primary concern has
long been the safety of its crews.

"Taking away our ability to secure the safe release of our crew members and vessels
could put us as an employer and ship owner in a very difficult position," Moller said.
"Thankfully we have not had to test such a scenario under these restrictions and it's
difficult for us to comment further on the consequences of the order without
speculating."
--------------------
US aid to tender 300 million dollar Mozambique projects (AFP)
MAPUTO, Mozambique – A US aid programme will launch late this year four tenders
worth over 300 million dollars to rebuild roads and improve water and sanitation in
Mozambique, local media reported on Tuesday.

The tenders will be conducted in the last three months of the year for projects in the
central Zambeze and northern Nampula and Cabo Delgado provinces, reported the
independent O Pais newspaper.

The tenders are part of a five-year, 507-million-dollar (377-million-euro) project of the


Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a US foreign aid scheme that finances anti-
poverty projects.

Four stretches of road covering a total of 500 kilometres (310 miles) will be upgraded
along the country's major north-south highway. Over 600 public water fountains will
also be constructed.

Mozambican Planning Minister Aiuba Cuereneia held a meeting Monday to announce


the tenders to local firms, the paper said.

"This meeting is important for national contractors to prepare for the tenders that will
be launched by MCA, since they still have some time to do so," he said.

"Local businesses have the possibility to prepare or establish partnerships with other
foreign companies to participate in the public process," he added.
--------------------
China Donates $1.5 Million to Boost Mauritania's Defense (Voice of America)

China is giving Mauritania a $1.5 million donation to boost its defense capability.

News reports from the region say Mauritania's Defense Minister Hamadi Ould Hamadi
and the Chinese ambassador to Nouakchott, Zhang Xun, signed a memorandum for the
donation Monday. They say the grant will be used to purchase equipment for military
engineering, such as bulldozers and other machines.

Hamadi said the funding comes at a time when Mauritania is making efforts to
strengthen its defense, as it faces growing challenges.

The northwest African country is wrought by ethnic tensions and also faces a growing
terrorism threat by a group called al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

China and Mauritania have signed a series of agreements in recent years. In March, a
Chinese fishing firm announced plans to invest $100 million in Mauritania's key fishing
industry.
--------------------
Military Personnel Five Times More Vulnerable to HIV (The Arusha Times)

ARUSHA, Tanzania — Over 60 militaries from 70 countries around the globe gathered
in Arusha from April 12-16 setting strategies to combat HIV infections affecting armies.

President Jakaya Kikwete who officially opened the meeting suggested that the global
US $ 200 billion fund that was raised to combat the feared Y2K virus a decade ago
should be now invested to fight the HIV pandemic.

Speaking at the third International Military HIV-Aids Conference, co-hosted by the US


Department of Defense and the Tanzania People's Defense Forces, held at the Arusha
International Conference Center, the President pointed out that the 'Millennium bug'
remained just a speculation after the new year of 2000 yet HIV was still real and
remains so todate.

"Politicians, Business People and other influential persons worldwide worked hard to
raise the US $200 billion when it was being speculated that the deadly Y2K virus that
would crash the entire computer network around the globe would strike at the turn of
the second millennium, but the fear never came to pass," stated Mr Kikwete who is the
Commander-in-Chief for Tanzania Defense Forces.

"But while the Y2K virus was imaginary the world has been living with a real virus, the
Aids causing HIV which for over 30 years has continued to torment mankind yet no
similar efforts are being made. It is high time the billions meant to combat Y2K be
channeled to fight HIV," insisted President Kikwete pointing out that HIV has so far
killed more than 25 million people in just 30 years.

President Kikwete stated that armed forces in Africa were more susceptible to the
disease as reports indicate that military personnel were five-times more vulnerable to
HIV infections than their civilian counterparts.

This year's International Military HIV-Aids Conference co-hosted by the US


Department of Defense and the Tanzania People's Defense forces took place in Arusha
under the theme 'Building sustainable capacity and leadership to combat the pandemic.'

The US Envoy to Tanzania, Ambassador Alfonso Lenhardt stated that throughout


history major battles were won by countries that kept their military personnel healthy
and armed forces weakened by diseases spelled a major security concern. But his
country was doing something about that.

"The US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) under which the
American Government has committed US $32 billion in Fiscal Year 2010 to bilateral
HIV-Aids programs is the largest commitment ever by any nation for an international
health initiative to a single disease," he stated.

The envoy explained that through its partnership with more than 30 countries,
Tanzania included, PEPFAR directly supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for
over 2.4 million men, women and children and care for nearly 11 million people
affected by HIV-Aids.

Speaking of the Arusha meeting Mr Jack Smith the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
of Defense for Clinical and Program Policy stated, "This represents one of the most
inclusive international military partnerships ever undertaken (and) we look forward to
continuing to answer the call to come together in common cause of turning the tide
against HIV-Aids."

Mr Smith explained the goals of the conference as to share best practices in leadership,
HIV prevention, care and treatment, gathering strategic information and to develop
plans for improving HIV-Aids surveillance and data usage.

"This is a rare opportunity that will enable representative audience of militaries world-
wide to share knowledge and experiences and strengthen important relationships in
unified fight against the devastating disease," Major General Kohi Yadon of Tanzania
People's Defense Forces commented.

Defense Minister, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, Chief of Tanzania Defense Forces, Major General
Davis Mwamunyange and Dr Richard Shaffer of the US Department of Defense HIV-
Aids prevention program were among the distinguished personalities at the
International Military HIV-Aids Conference.
--------------------
UN News Service Africa Briefs
Full Articles on UN Website

UN humanitarian chief to visit Senegal, Niger and DR Congo


20 April – United Nations emergency relief coordinator John Holmes heads later this
week to West Africa where the combined effects of poverty, food shortages and rapid
population growth have put millions of people in a state of chronic vulnerability.