Africa in the news: Mauritania’s new President Ghazouani, Mozambique’s peace deal, and Pelosi and US delegation’s visit to Ghana

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi poses for a photograph after presenting a gift to Paramount Chief of Cape Coast traditional area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, during her visit to a palace used by the Chief after her tour at the Cape Coast Castle which was used as a trading post from where slaves would be taken to America, in Ghana July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RC14F026AA40

Mauritania swears in new president in first peaceful transfer of power

On Thursday, August 1, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani was sworn in as Mauritania’s president in the country’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960. He succeeds Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who served 11 years as president after coming to power in a 2008 coup and winning presidential elections in 2009 and 2014. The event marking the transfer of power was attended by many African and world dignitaries, including presidents from Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau.

Aziz, who was constitutionally barred from serving another term as president, backed Ghazouani, a former defense minister, in Mauritania’s June presidential elections. Ghazouani won 52 percent of the vote in those elections; the result was challenged by the opposition, but upheld in the Constitutional Court.

Mozambique signs peace deal with opposition

On Thursday, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and the leader of opposition party Renamo, Ossufo Momade, signed a peace deal that will lead to a permanent ceasefire. Renamo is the main opposition party in Mozambique and was previously involved in a 16-year civil war with President Nyusi’s party that ended in 1992. Renamo retained a military wing after the end of the civil war and has been sporadically involved in clashes with government security forces.

The peace deal was signed in Gorongosa, a Renamo stronghold in central Mozambique. The two parties are also expected to sign a broader agreement next week in Maputo. As part of the deal, Renamo fighters will disarm and reintegrate over the coming weeks. In anticipation of the peace agreement, the parliament passed an amnesty law for all crimes committed in the conflict between Renamo and the government since 2014. The agreement will allow the opposition to participate in provincial elections scheduled for October 15; experts expect the group to win several provinces.

Delegation from US House of Representatives visits Ghana

This week, a delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Ghana. Other representatives included Majority Whip James Clyburn, Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Karen Bass, Co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Congressman John Lewis, among others. Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, was a part of the retinue as well.

The trip included an address by Pelosi to the Ghanaian Parliament and “high-level discussions on key issues such as regional security, sustainable and inclusive development and the challenges of tomorrow including the climate crisis.” The visit marked the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia and the historic linkages between the U.S. and Africa. Pelosi and the delegation visited the Cape Coast and Elmina slave castles, where hundreds of thousands of Africans were forced to board ships bound for the U.S. and elsewhere to be bonded into slavery. Commenting on the gravity and weight of the occasion, Pelosi said, “Our souls have been touched by what we saw there … These profound places are a sobering testament to humanity’s capacity for great evil and also a helpful reminder of the capacity for great resilience, renewal and strength of a people.”

According to Newsweek, the congressmen and women were also in Ghana to mark President Nana Akufo-Addo’s 2018 formal invitation to the world’s African diaspora to visit the continent to which they have ancestral ties, for the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019.”