Africa in the news: US – Africa updates, South Sudan unity government, and Mauritius elections

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Al Dardeery Mohamed Ahmed and his delegation leave the U.S. Treasury Department after negotiations on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, situated on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan, in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RC206D9D9GFM

U.S. hosts GERD dam talks and U.S. – Cameroon relations. On Wednesday November 6, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin hosted foreign ministers from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to discuss issues related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under construction in Ethiopia. The hydropower project is expected to be the largest in Africa when completed. Keeping in mind that the Nile river runs south to north, Egypt has raised concerns about the filling and operationalization of the dam, warning the project will reduce water supplies to the country. A joint statement published after the meeting announced that the foreign ministers would meet again in Washington on December 9 and January 13, with the goal of finalizing an agreement by January 15. If an agreement is not reached by the deadline, the countries agreed to invoke Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles, which would bring in an international mediator to resolve the dispute.

In other news, President Trump announced that the U.S. would cut Cameroon’s preferential trade access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) starting January 1, 2020 in response to human rights violations by the country’s government in the ongoing Anglophone crisis, which began in 2016. Cameroon’s exports to the U.S. were $220 million last year. In a statement, C.J. Mahoney, deputy U.S. trade representative, noted that cutting Cameroon’s preferential access “underscores the Administration’s commitment to upholding the human rights criteria as required in the AGOA legislation.”

South Sudanese leaders announce 100-day delay in forming unity government

On Thursday, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar announced a 100-day delay in forming the country’s unity government. Originally, the unity government was expected to be announced November 12. The delay was announced at the end of a tripartite meeting hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, which was also attended by Sudan’s President of the Transitional Sovereign Council and Kenya’s Special Envoy on South Sudan. As part of the agreement, a monitoring report on progress towards a unity government is expected halfway through the 100-day delay. The delay will allow additional time for negotiations including on issues related to security arrangements and governance.

Mauritius Prime Minister reelected for five-year term

On Friday, Mauritius announced interim results for parliamentary elections that showed incumbent Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth’s party, the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) winning 35 out of 62 seats. This allows Jugnauth, who has been prime minister since 2017, to secure a full 5-year term. The two main opposition parties, the Labour Party and the Mauritian Military Movement, secured 15 and 10 seats respectively. Improving government benefits and reducing wealth inequality were major issues in this year’s elections. Jugnauth campaigned on his introduction of a minimum wage law, while the opposition party had proposed increasing retirement benefits during the campaign.